“That’s my seat,” the Black, teenage thug loudly exclaims as he, and three of his boys, all Black, step off the platform and into the subway car. “Get up.” I watch as his large hands become fists and he steps closer, invading the suited, White man’s personal space. “Now.”
The stern expression on the suited, White man’s face lets me know he’s not accustomed to backing down from a fight. But this fight is one he knows he can’t win. The tightening of his grip around the briefcase in his lap lets me know he’s protecting something of value, a laptop computer perhaps. He has probably ridden the Metro numerous times, from Downtown Los Angeles to the M.L.K. Transit Center/Compton Station, but this is the first time he has been accosted by the local thugs.
I almost feel sorry for the man. Like me, all he wants to do is get home without incident after spending eight hours or more at the office. I have him pegged as a show runner with one of the local studios, but the pocket-protected pens and markers in the front, left pocket of his button-down shirt gives me second thoughts.
He undoubtedly is an accountant at one of the local banks.
But how can I feel sorry for him? My skin is as dark as the pesky thug’s. By virtue of being born Black, I’m supposed to side with him, right?
Stick it to the White man, take what they are unwilling to relinquish on their own, right?
The Black, teenage thug grabs the man by his collar, effortlessly lifts him from the seat. Members of his entourage snicker in the background, patiently waiting on the punch line to some sick joke. Hanging from the Black, teenage thug’s bent arm now, the suited, White man nervously looks up at him, seeking permission with his eyes to be excused.
The Black, teenage thug releases him. The suited, White man immediately turns on his heels to seek refuge in the adjoining car. The Black, teenage thug claims the now-empty seat, high-fiving a lighter-skinned member of his entourage.
An angry scowl on the face of the old, White man seated just to the right of me doesn’t go unnoticed. He is dressed in all black, with a preacher’s collar, and the little hair that remains on his head is combed over to cover a bald spot.
“You need to stop eyeballing me, old man,” the Black, teenage thug says, his unbelted, denim jeans now six inches below his waistline. He stands briefly to pull his pants up over his boxers, then sits. His gaze falls on me.
Pointing, he says, “Hey, y’all, look at Wheels over there.” Eyes above smiling faces now shift to me.
“Bet not get him mad, Ty,” a member of his entourage interjects. “He’ll run you over.”
“Why do you people act the way you do?” Preacher Man gruffly says, his arms crossed.
The Black, teenage thug now known as Ty doesn’t hear him, but a member of his entourage does. “What’s that you say, old man?” the member asks. Everyone’s attention shifts to Preacher Man as the thug who heard him stands, readying himself for a fistfight.
Preacher Man continues, “We give you space, yet you still feel the need to mock and terrorize us. Why? For laughs? I think not. You don’t care. About yourselves, the legacy of your people.”
Ty leaps from his seat while reaching for the revolver in his right jacket pocket. He stands in front of Preacher Man, his revolver pressed firmly against Preacher Man’s temple. Preacher Man’s arms are at his sides now, and his eyes are shut. Must be making amends with God, for he probably fears the end is near.
“He’s right, you know?”
Ty turns to me, revolver still pressed firmly against Preacher Man’s temple.
“You don’t care. About yourselves, the legacy of our people.”
Copyright 2015. Jeffery A. Faulkerson. All rights reserved.
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