He drove a white van with a dent in the driver's side door. A dent like a meteor crater. He was stopped in the intersection, mid-turn.
A man unlike any I have ever met. A man who would block the intersection just to get my attention. A man who knew that I was important.
He was whispering sweet things. He was telling me how much he loved me, in simple fragrant words that soothed me as I stood on the sidewalk, waiting for the crossing light to change. He said I was the most beautiful person he had ever seen, that I was wonderful, that I meant so much to everyone on this block. Then the passers-by looked to me and smiled too. The man who was stopped in the white car behind him rolled down his window and waved. The woman looking out from the apartment across the way lifted her cup of tea. I took in the soft encouragement and hardly even wanted the light to change as it slowly blinked, a red hand keeping me here a while longer, asking me if I'd like to stay, and I did.
The man raised his hand from the open window and motioned for me to come over. A shy, quiet motion, undesiring, unexpectant. His fingers still then suddenly more, a movement of camaraderie, as though we shared a secret, as though we used to fight on the same side.
The people who had been so eager to get home now stopped their cars. They rolled down their windows and looked out at us in the dusk, their eyes reflecting just a thin strand of light from the gas station on the corner. They watched me protectively, like they were my parents. I couldn't see their faces, but they saw everything. They understood what was happening.
I stepped into the intersection. Watching the man as I walked up to his door, smiling coyly as I felt the power of being asked to be only myself. The city cradled me, soaked me in love then opened like the stamen of a flower to let me choose, I knew that I was safe, and so I approached the window.
The man's left hand dangled out, his fingers still now, yet full. He had jammed a black cylinder into his palm. I will never know why.
The metal had cut and soured his skin, leaving its shape in permanent sores that still clutched the grip long after he had wanted to let go. He looked afraid now, and I saw that he needed me. He looked at me like he was my grandfather, and with acceptance, he took something from the powder at the bottom of the barrel.
I touched the cold metal and he dropped the object into my palm. I stepped back and met his eyes. In our look, I thanked him.
The crossing light turned to a white figure. The onlookers quietly started their engines and the white van itself drifted off, out of the intersection and far away, to a place I never visit.
PPB Incident Report #62823
At approximately 21:00 on the evening of June 28th, 2023 a report was made of an unlawful firing of a weapon at the intersection of Hawthorne Ave. and SE 21st Ave. An officer was dispatched to the scene and arrived 30 minutes after the reported incident. In talking with witnesses at the scene the officer was informed of a white van with a significant dent in the driver's side door that had stopped illegally in the intersection facing East, on the side of the Arco gas station. The driver of the white van appeared agitated and was yelling what was described as slurs and graphic language at bystanders. Refusing to leave the intersection, the driver fired what witnesses described as a small, black handgun into the air. The vehicle then fled the scene. Responding officers determined that the shooter posed no public threat and noted that no victim had revealed herself.