Friday, April 27, 2012

The Question on the Street

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He heard her before he saw her:  "Jyeeem!  Jyeeem!"
His heart sank as he realized it was the smoker
who was approaching him.  "Jyeem, can you spare
the big bucks for me today.  Could you...?"

"I don't have the big bucks today.  I can give you
a dollar."

She pulled the crumpled bill from his hand before he
extended it towards her.  "You look thin, Jyeeem.
Why you thin, Jyeeem? "

"Well, you know this cancer thing..."

But she wasn't listening.

"Are you sick, Jyeeem?"

"I... uh..."

Suddenly she was shouting, Are you sick, JYEEM?"
The sidewalk became an uncomfortable theater
without a proscenium to keep the audience safely
separated from the action.

The smokers voice kept rising, "ARE YOU SICK, JYEEM?

It came out of him without warning.   "YES!" he shouted
back while not looking at her.

She stopped and turned from him.  He kept going.  He did
not look back at her shuffling away.  He did not look up at
the on-lookers.  No one said a thing as he passed through
them.  He did not know if anyone was still looking at him.

Why had he said such a thing?  The fact he took refuge in
weakness made him feel weak.

But then he smiled:  at least he wasn't sick.

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