Monday, July 30, 2007

Judgment Day

I used to throw newspapers, and one morning I'd been accosted by about three crackheads, all of 'em wanting to jump in my game, and I can tell you when it's five a.m. and crackheads are slowing you down, you gotta be fast, and I was, I'd see 'em coming up to me and time slowed down and the very instant, the 20th of a second I see their lips opening trying to snag me in the game, I'd open my mouth and start talking non-stop: "Hey, hey my man," I'm talking loud and running right over whatever they got to say, cause I know it's my only hope, "It's a fast gig, a hurry-up thing, ya gotta go, go, go, and I'm tellin' ya, it's just one damn thing after another some mornin's, ya know man, and I can't stop cause if I stop I get BEHIND, so far behind, they'll be complainin' and believe me, I got to just go go go." All this talking as fast as I possibly can and I'm walking fast while I talk and making total fixed eye-contact and I am not letting that crackhead get a single word in edgewise. Not a single word.
I remember when my father died, I returned from the funeral out of state, tired is what I was and I was beyond tired. I had spent a week in the hospital watching him slowly die, and then returned for the funeral a few days later. I had to go to the grocery store when I got back to Charlotte.
That other morning, in a different year, on a different day, crackhead number four for the morning started his approach, and I thought to myself each one of these guys thinks he's the only crackhead who's tried to jump in my game this morning.
So I ran out of my stuff, and I just said instead, "get out of my way, you damn crackhead," while I'm walking and makin' eye contact with him like I know I have to, and he bows up and sputters, "who the hell are you to judge me, man?"
So, fatigued in a way I've never been before, I'm in the grocery line and when it comes time to pay I start fumbling with my money or my checkbook, and I'm aware that I'm acting like a doddering moron. And the guy behind me is getting impatient, and so is the woman behind him, and I can identifywith them cause I've been exactly in their shoes. I just can't seem to get it together, and fumble and mess up for what seems like the longest moments until finally I get the cashier paid off, and stumble off, too tired even to feel embarassed, but feeling the stares against my back and hearing the mumbled "dumbass jerk" and some other pissed off murmur from the woman.
My nephew was enraged at some boy who lived down the mountain from them, it seemed the boy was retarded or had had his head knocked in by a now-absent father long ago, or had a brain tumor removed in infancy, or something like that, we adults didn't know all the details, but knew the boy had some reason to be not quite okay. But my nephew was fuming; he's tried to play with the kid or pal around, and now he was fulminating about the neighbor boy. "That stupid faggot!" he kept shouting, and all us uneasy adults knew enough that my nephew didn't even really know what that word meant, and that whatever faux pas the other kid had made, there was probably a forgiveable reason, and that my nephew was making a scene over something that maybe he shouldn't.
Finally my cousin-in-law Ashley lowers the hammer on my nephew. "Why don'tyou just shut up, Jason, what you don't seem to realize is that some people have problems YOU JUST DON'T KNOW ABOUT!" And every adult in the room turned and looked at him and said, "That's right, Jason!"
Not to be slowed down, I told the crackhead, "Hell yes I'm judging you, man,but I sure as hell don't expect you or anyone else to take my judgment seriously. Hell, I don't even take my OWN judgments seriously!" That left him with his mouth hanging open, just as I hoped, and I stepped around him and kept on with my paper route and finished by 6:00.


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