Monday, November 02, 2009

I Don't Need That

After tossing back some cafe Americano and some life issues and big old ideas, Charlie and I left Gypsie Beans in pursuit of a smoke shop. We passed the glistening new storefronts and restaurants indicative of a neighborhood on the rise. We also passed a few indicators of a not-so-ebullient and not-so-distant past. While Charlie was looking for smokes (I was helping), we sought a vendor more upscale than CONVENIENT STORE FOOD MART. So we continued down Detroit Avenue, beyond where the redevelopment was most noticeable.

--I think this part of the neighborhood is still looking for development, I said
--We might have to go to Little Italy, Charlie said, removing the last Nat Sherman from the pack.

We passed a Save-A-Lot, then a Family Dollar, where a young boy emerged, shopping bag in hand. He reached inside to remove a new AM/FM walkman. Charlie and I stepped past, and I thought the boy called for us, about 20 steps behind.

--Hey!

--Hey!

The calls were ignored.

The chapel at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel let loose a volley of bell chimes, either recorded or the real deal. I did not believe it was the turn of the hour.

Charlie and I had reached a block of apartment buildings to our left. Beyond the apartments there appeared little in the way of retail, let alone a high rent tobacco shop, though the Golden Arches were appealing. We stopped. Twenty yards away, a middle aged woman in curlers and a housecoat sat on the front stoop of an apartment building. We turned back the other way.

--Excuse me, she said.

We began walking.

--Excuse me, she said.

--Excuse me.

--Excuse me.

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel continued Her cadence.

We approached the child again. He walked toward us holding out the radio, still in the package.

--Hey. Hey you. Can you open this?

I said sure and took the thing off of him. It was encased in a bubble of plastic, fabricated in China or Taiwan, more than likely, and would serve the kid well for about two weeks, when it would either be lost, stolen, or deceased of natural causes. I took out my apartment keys and used one to saw through the container.

The shopping bag that had once contained the boy's purchase fell lazily from his hand and began to waft down the sidewalk. Charlie lurched with his left leg and stepped on the bag before it could float further away.

--You dropped your bag nephew, Charlie said.

--Huh? the kid said. I don't need that.

I managed to cut a healthy gash through the packaging, and used my hands to separate one half of the shell from the other. Our Lady signaled the fifteenth hour, roughly. Or maybe the sixteenth. Daylight savings had ended just that morning, and it takes the world most of the day to adjust.

--You better pick up that bag, said Charlie.
--But I don't need that, said the child.

In seeing him speak, I noticed that his teeth were stained orange -- a gradient moving from dark to light as the tooth descended from the gum.

--Look, Charlie said, foot still resting on the bag -- you throw this bag into a trash can.

--I don't need it!

The kid, maybe 10 or 11, took a wad of cash from his pocket and quickly ran his fingers across it. All singles amounting to maybe eight dollars. He slipped the dough back into his jeans.

--Trash can! Charlie said.

The kid stared from me to Charlie, then back again. I noticed that he wore glasses. He bent down and picked up the bag, eyes appearing perplexed behind wire frames and lenses.

Through it all, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel continued her song.

Undoubtedly, the youth dropped the bag as soon as we turned our backs. But Charlie had won a small battle. I would not have said anything, had it just been me. I would have pretended to have not noticed the blatant display of laziness. My day would have moved on, and I would have made no effort to address the issue or correct it. But I would have complained about it later, no doubt.

As we made our way back to Gypsie Beans, Charlie and I greeted every piece of flotsam on the sidewalk -- usually near public trash cans -- with I Don't Need That.

Burger King cup: I don't need that.
K-12 RTA bus pass: I don't need that.
Funions bag: I don't need that.
Cash explosion lottery ticket: I don't need that.
Empty pack of Winstons: I don't need that.

1 comment:

Let's Work With Orphans said...

I don't need it. I don't need it! I don't need it! I don't need it.

Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey...

Excuse me. Excuse me. Excuse me.

Have you ever tried that Hookah? I don't know, it seems dangerous.

I still need a birthday card for my Mom.