Monday, July 11, 2005


She saw him in crowd. She didn't know why her eye was drawn to him. In his plaid button-down shirt and worn blue jeans, he did not stick out of the crowd. He wasn't attractive. Not to say that he was ugly, but his long nose and mouth slacking open didn't exactly rev Miranda's engine. Nevertheless, she stood on the street corner among the crowd, waiting to follow the rest of the flock into the crosswalk. She noticed his poor posture and awkward gait as he walked toward her in the adjacent crosswalk. He seemed like a thousand other people she had seen in this city, but there was still something about him that made her continue to stare.

A burly man in a brown business suit walking the opposite direction smashed into a long-haired twenty-something hippie-looking chick in front of the long-nosed man in the plaid shirt. The burly man bowled right over the long-haired girl, spinning only slightly from the impact, and shouted something angrily at the young woman, who was knocked to her knees by the much larger man. The guy in the plaid shirt stopped behind her and looked over his shoulder at the man in the brown business suit. Without an explanation the man in the brown business suit dropped his suitcase and began screaming. He batted at some invisible attacker on his shirt and pulled at his tie which only served to choke him. The man flailed wildly and pulled at the tightening tie on his neck. The others in the crosswalk tried their best to avoid him; irritated faces began to appear in the crowd. The burly man continued his hysterics until he stumbled into an even burlier man who grabbed him by the collar and threw him down onto the ground. The man in the brown business suit immediately stopped his screaming. He lay on the ground wide-eyed and bewildered, breathing heavily.

Miranda looked back to the man in the plaid shirt. He had apparently been watching the man in the brown suit as well. He turned back to the young woman in front of him, who was collecting the contents of her hemp tote bag that had been spilled onto the street. He reached down, picking up a small box of some sort. As he was about to offer it to its owner, she snatched it out of his hands and quickly shoved her possession back into her bag. She stood up, gripped her bag tightly, and quickly resumed crossing the street. The man in the plaid shirt stood still for a second watching the long-haired girl walk away, until he was nudged from behind by another pedestrian. He continued through the crosswalk.

The crowd waiting with Miranda on her corner began to cross the street, but Miranda followed the man in the plaid shirt with her eyes. Closer up, he looked much younger than she had first thought, and Miranda saw sadness in his eyes. As he passed only a few feet from him, she had the urge to follow him. She gave in to her urge.

She followed him into a corner store, watching him from the magazine rack. He lazily walked to the cooler, picked up a quart of milk and a shrink-wrapped sandwich. On his way up to the counter, he picked up a can of Li'l Smokies. I hope that's not his dinner. Her stomach felt empathetic for his.

At the counter, Plaid Shirt asked the clerk for a pack of cigarettes. The clerk rang up the total. Plaid Shirt opened his wallet, dug around, and pulled out nothing and set it on the counter. Plaid Shirt shrugged with embarrassment. Miranda moved over to the candy rack to get a better view.

The clerk gave Plaid Shirt a brief look of disdain, picked up the imaginary tender and punched some buttons on his register. The drawer sprung open and the clerk counted out nearly eighty-five dollars in change and handed it to Plaid Shirt.

Miranda was confused. She grabbed a pack of Skittles and stepped up next to Plaid Shirt at the counter. She looked back and forth from the man in the plaid shirt to the clerk. As he finished organizing his money in his wallet, he noticed Miranda's sideways glances. He quickly shoved his items into his pockets and walked out of the store.

Miranda was staring after Plaid shirt, when the man behind the counter asked, "Hey, you gonna buy something or what?" Miranda looked up at him, put her candy on the counter, reached into her purse, pulled out nothing and set in onto the counter. The clerk looked at her with disbelief. Miranda stood her ground, looking from where she had set her money back up to the clerk. Finally, with a sigh the clerk said, "Sorry, lady, we don't take imaginary money here, only real cash."

She squinted her eyes and looked at him. "Nevermind, I don't want it." Miranda quickly walked out the door.

The clerk shook his head, "I hate working here."

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