One Sick Trick
Glenn Lester

She was a woman with the cause you could tell. She had pants hanging loose so she won't show anyone anything to holler at. I followed her around the corner, to a homeless guy splattered on a milk crate, near a bus stop. The whole image. The punk girl kneels, so their eyes are level. The O-rings hanging off her coat jangle in the bum's lap. "Sir, might you have a light?"
I would've given it to her. I got a lighter. But she didn't ask me. Solidarity. I've got an Urban Outfitters shopping bag, so I've got nothing to offer? Homeless guy's black but that doesn't mean I go up to him to commune over a cigarette. Black guys freak me out. You've been there. Just ask me to be solid with my people and I will. But if one more black male flashes his arm at me like a come-on, I'm out.
What did I do? I took a gleaming penny from my pocket, looked at the two of them taking up half the damn sidewalk, and dropped that coin between their feet.

* * *

Might it surprise you to learn that no televised disaster -- neither genocide in Darfur, nor neglected infrastructure reconstruction in Iraq, nor hurricanes-cum-regrettably-botched-relief-efforts in the American Southeast -- has interrupted shooting to send me home early from the ramp with shallow breaths and a charred, troubled mouth? There's plenty of video of me fucking up, but it'll only be broadcast under the credits. I've never committed a hunger strike in public -- I'm thinking Kiwanis Park gutter punks, black hoods, stage blood, screechy protest rallies -- nor have I uttered such stock phrases as "We are all so fucked" or "Workers Of The World, Unite." Surprised that the only crises sending me over the ledge are the crises of a too-tight truck, of dented polyurethane? I might get a bloody nose, and Gregor might shoot it. I'm not one of those political skaters. When Gregor with a handheld digital video camera comes backpacked and fat to the skate park, enough blank tape to catch me on at least one sick trick before I wipe out, to send to Emerica or Bones Brigade, I'm ready, already swooping like Tony Hawk.