Behind the building the key doesn’t fit.
He’s on me before I hear or see him, so I make
my best play – “What up?” is all I have.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, can you let me in?”
It’s a question about a building and so about much more.
“They are going to hurt me, hurt me real bad.”
As I try to process the fear on his face
he’s over the fence in the blink of an eye
as I stare, wondering how that was even
physically possible and I look all around
for the causes of his terror and his flight.
He peeks through the gate, shirt removed
changing his shirt from blue outer to white under
in a world that doesn’t see or recognize the internals.
I ask a stupid question, the answer to which I already know.
Everything is happening at breakneck speed.
Living to fight another day is what I do best
thanks to all those years of having no choice.
Escape and regroup, learned before I actually could,
now frequently is an invaluable skill
“Get in my car, I’ll get you out of here.”
In the car he says he will give me money,
not realizing he is already giving me something.
“They were going to hurt me, hurt me real bad.
I don’t know why people have to be like that,”
as, now safe, he puts his shirt and jewelry back on
“Nobody needs to be hurt today, or any day”
I find myself saying, while recognizing
how little power I have to make that a reality
beyond this day, this situation and circumstance
In a world that just doesn’t care.
He: “People just don’t want to give anybody a break”
I respond, “I know, but you know that much better
than I,” not at all sure my meaning is clear.
“I’ll give you however much money you want” he says.
“I’m a pastor,” not the reason, but one he can understand.
“Have you heard of my church?” he asks, and the name
rings a bell but I can’t quite place it. I say that I do,
and that I have heard it is a very good place even
as I suspect that although they do the best they can
they, too, are more concerned with externals
than the real world this young man inhabits.
“You must be my Guardian Angel,” a belief
that would make anyone who knows me
break into tears of laughter – including me.
I shake his hand, wish him God Bless,
and tell him to be safe as he exits the car
and I realize I can never be the same.