I was returning from my lunch-time walk to the park and back when I saw a man ahead of me on the sidewalk; he was on the same side of the street, but about a block north of me. I could see that he was pushing some type of cart, but couldn’t make-out exactly what it was…and given that he was wearing a t-shirt and pants of that sturdy brown color used by a certain parcel delivery company, I allowed that he might have been pushing a hand-truck or dolly loaded with packages…except that there was no matching sturdy brown truck nearby. As I continued up the street and heading directly toward the man, I noticed that he kept walking back and forth on the sidewalk, first up the street I was on, and then back and forth on the street that ran perpendicular to the one I was on, the one that I would have to cross very soon as I made my way back to work.
While I was waiting for the various cars to pass in front of me and allow my clear and safe passage to the other side of the road, I was better able to see what the man was pushing ahead of him. It was a shopping cart, and not one that was over-loaded with belongings, not one that would reveal the more transient nature of his life, but one that contained a solitary “something” or other…just a single thing…and not many.
I made it to the other side of the street and continued on my northward march up the sidewalk, quickly gaining on the man and paying special attention to the fact that he had stopped and was looking back at me…or in my direction, anyway. As he stood there in his short-sleeved t-shirt in the 31 degree weather, evidently being warmed by something he carried within himself…maybe something flowing in his veins already at this almost early hour of the morning, I wondered what the question was going to be. He was already working on it, too, slowly loosening his lips and mouth, making empty motions and aligning the thoughts of words, the mental sounds of them, maybe, in preparation for my impending arrival at his side.
I was expecting to be asked about the change I had in my pocket and was a little surprised when the man said, “Excuse me, Brother…dhhhooo you know…you know where there’s a restaurant around here…here?”
In the several seconds that it took the man to prepare his words and manage to offer them to me, I noticed that his one hand didn’t stray from his shopping cart…the rickety four-wheeled device that he was using to carry his unceremoniously-opened 18-pack of Bud-lite…and nothing else. In those seconds, I also looked more directly at the man’s face and noticed that maybe I could have been his brother…after all, we were both men…and we must have each had a mother…so maybe….
Cars and assorted traffic passed behind and beside us as we questioned the day and wondered things in our separate minds in those fast and fleeting moments…as the man still stood there in his short-sleeved shirt with his long black hair tied loosely in a pony tail. His golden-brown face was flat and thickly fleshed and had deep lines extending from the outside corners of his eyes and mouth; his nose was also mostly golden brown, but reddish, too, and bulbous, and heavily veined with red and blue road-map capillaries that spoke of years of opened beers and other kinds of things. His black-brown eyes were glassy as they passed and twitched at mine with his stumbling words and wondering words and with his outstretched arm, and then, “Izzzzz it that pa-hink…is it that p-hink building over there?”
I did happen to know where there was a restaurant nearby, so I told the man no, that pink building was a set of old apartments…you need to go back down the sidewalk and turn right at the street in front of us and head that way for a couple blocks…the restaurant is called “Rico-something-or-other.”
“Oh…ok…thank you, Bhrother.”
About a month ago, in the wee hours of the morning, 34 minutes after midnight, to be exact, patrol officers from the West-City Precinct observed suspicious activity on the part of a vehicle’s occupants while it was parked in the roadway at 55th and McDoring. When officers attempted to initiate a traffic stop, the vehicle fled west-bound on McDoring. Officers terminated their attempt to stop the vehicle prior to reaching 59th. The suspect vehicle continued to 75th where it then accessed the east-bound freeway, entering and finally exiting it south-bound on 19th. A tactical surveillance had been implemented at 67th and the freeway, with only the air unit maintaining visual contact of the suspect vehicle. As the vehicle reached the intersection of 19th and Bridgeline Road, it ran a red light and struck an east-bound vehicle broadside, killing the driver instantly. There were no other occupants in the victim vehicle. The suspect driver and passenger were taken into custody…both with minor injuries. It was later learned that the occupants had done a beer-run in the West-City Precinct area earlier in the evening. The driver presented with obvious signs of intoxication. Detectives from the Vehicular Crimes Unit responded to handle the case.
A couple weeks later, in the same West-City Precinct, at a given convenience store that we’ll call “Triangle J,” at only 9:30 p.m. on the particular evening, an adult male suspect was in the process of stealing beer from the Triangle J store when he was stopped by the adult male victim and his wife. As the female victim, Mrs. Josette Citizen, tried to prevent the suspect from exiting the store with the stolen beer, the suspect struck her in the head with a semi-automatic handgun, causing non-life threatening injuries. The male victim, Mr. Joe Citizen, interceded on behalf of his injured wife and was shot once in the chest by the suspect. He died of his injuries, Mr. Joe Citizen did, right there, in the doorway of the Triangle J convenience store. The suspect fled on foot to a waiting vehicle. A search of the area was negative for the suspect. Detectives from the Homicide Unit responded to handle the case. A few days later, the suspect’s sister, having seen the Triangle J convenience store’s video surveillance tape on the morning news, called 9-1-1 and told our operator that it was her brother who committed the murderous beer-run. Two days later, officers and detectives arrested the suspect…and his parents and other family members…who had been hiding the suspect…and who had destroyed evidence that would have definitively linked the suspect to the crime.
I probably enjoy a bottle of ice-cold suds as much as the next person…but this is beyond my comprehension.