Wednesday, September 17, 2014
I walked outside, toward my car. Across the street, he dropped a can in a bag. Flippant, breezy. Careless. Insouciant. Without care. (Etymologically "without sorrow, anxiety, or grief; without burdens of mind; serious mental attention.") In flagrante delicto. Broad daylight. Almost twilight. I changed direction. "No direction home," to use a generational phrase from Bob Dylan. I walked across the street, telling myself silently, over and over, as if it were an incantation, a Roman Catholic litany, "Do not say a word. Don't say a thing." I picked up the can in a bag. Arnold Palmer iced tea. Near it, a Keystone Light tall boy. Not being a drinker, even to pick up that can, with its dregs and alcoholic odor, a risk. I picked it up too. The clutch of three or four bus-stop waiters staring at me, their eyes on me. "Hey," he said. I kept moving. "Hey." I focused on picking up the litter, the desecration of land not considered holy, not considered unholy, not considered at all. "Hey, mister, over here. You missed this. Hey. You missed one." Do not say a word. Don't say a thing. Do not say a word. Don't say a thing. I gathered the detritus. I held it. I stopped. I looked at him. We locked eyes. If looks could kill. I turned and crossed the street, my back to him, to them, my hands now shaking.