A Single Mom, Pickpocket, Invisible Teacher, and a Foul-mouthed Good Samaritan Go for a Walk

Four vignettes where I have fun with character and dialogue.

“You always got some story.”

“No, listen, my friend, listen—”

“I ain’t’cha friend. I’m the boss. I had to deliver the wine yesterday, and Lincoln covered for you today.”

“My daughter, she is—”

“I sympathize, man, but our customers, they don’t. They don’t care if you lost your damn leg. They calling me like where my order? They ain’t too many more excuses I can give ‘fore they call upstream. You feel me?”

“Yes, ma’am. It is just that my wife—”

“Nope. I don’t wanna hear another story.”

“It is not a story—”

“Story, truth, it could be a goddamn fable for all I care. Listen, I can’t run my team like this. We at the bottom of the ladder. You feel me? They don’t give a shit about your daughter, my kids, your wife. Upstream? What they care about is them wine boxes getting delivered.”

“With this pandemic, we cannot rely on others like we used to. I thought they would understand.”

“Pssht. That sympathizing ‘oh we one big family’ shit? That’s for those in corporate. They got their offices and their air conditioning. Out here on the streets, they ain’t thinking about us. And if they is thinking about us, it ain’t for our good. You feel me?”

“Yes, ma’am. I will not be late again.”

“I know you won’t. ‘Cause you late again…” She slams shut the steel cellar door protruding onto the sidewalk. “That’s yah ass.”

Photo by Ryan Millier from Pexels

“You from around here?”

“Here on holiday. From Florida originally.”

“It’s hot like Florida now.”

“I didn’t know it got this hot this far north.”

“Yeah, we get all kinds of weather. Snow. Hurricanes.”

“You from here?”

“Born and bred, baby. Best city on Earth.”


“Well, what?”

“No, it’s nothing.”

“Speak yah mind.”

“It’s just that ‘the best’ is relative.”

“So, you come into my city and tell me you don’t like it?”

“No, no. I was just saying… you know it’s hard to judge a city. Like, there’s Tokyo and Paris—”

“You saying Tokyo and Paris are better cities?”

“No, I’m just saying—”

“What? ‘Cause it sounds like you trying to say something bad about my city.”

“No, I love it here. I come here every—”

“Get the fuck out of my face. Go back to your hotel and lock the door, Florida.” He leans his back against the fence and watches Florida scurry round the next corner. He takes the cash out of Florida’s wallet and chucks the rest on the sidewalk. “Fucking tourists.”

“How’s the new job?”


“You just started five months ago. Honeymoon period over already?”

“I don’t get paid enough to afford a honeymoon period.”

“You’re a teacher now, right?”

“Training tomorrow’s leaders.”

“Girl, why you chose to get into teaching I’ll never understand. This country don’t respect teachers. Why didn’t you stay in corporate?”

“Closer to the arts, I guess.”

“They offering a retirement plan?”

“Eligible in one year.”


“In three months.”

“Damn. That’s some last century personnel management right there. You got a water cooler?”

“On-site Starbucks.”

“At their prices, can you afford it?”

“Only on payday.”

“Girl, what is up with the price of coffee in this country. Remember when coffee was fifty cents, and your choices were black or with milk?”

“They serve an Americano.”

“For how much, though?”

“Two-twenty, two-fifty. Plus tax.”

“That’s just hot water.”

“They tell you their beans are special.”

“You believe it?”

“No. I believe they’re selling an image, a feeling, a clique. The rest is just an addiction.”

“Girl, you too deep for me. How your husband feel about the career change?”

“It’s caused some…”

“You ain’t even got to finish. I know he upset you going from a professional’s salary to a teacher.”

“Teachers are professionals.”

“Whatever. So, you like it?”

“I’m ambivalent. They pay me. They’re nice enough that a less experienced person would misconstrue it for respect.”

“White people.”

“I don’t think it’s race related.”

“Are you happy, though? Your colleagues nice? They say all jobs suck. It’s your co-workers that make or break a place.”

“That’s level dependent.”


“It’s nice being around people who think like I do.”

“Any single men, ‘cause I’m— Hold up. Is that a smile? Girl. Spill. It.”

“He’s divorced—”

“And you ain’t but carry on.”

She waits until the garbage truck passes and the street noise is a little quieter. “He sees me.”

“Anybody call 9-1-1?”

“That guy over there. I think he’s on the phone with ‘em now.”

“Love how everybody just stands around, but NONE OF YOU lift a finger to help.”

“Man, just chill.”

“Guy’s schlepped over a shopping cart in the middle of the street, and cars just going round him like he’s a statue. It ain’t right. Wanna know what’s wrong with humanity? It’s this right here. Nobody wants to get involved anymore. Hey, guy? You good? Buddy? You gonna get yourself killed out here. Lemme help you. Jesus Christ, you could use a shower. Shit man. Where the hell are the cops.”

“Should we move him? I can push the shopping cart if you wanna help him over to the sidewalk.”

“I ain’t touching him. Come closer. No, stand on this side. You smell that?”

“Wooh. Yep. What should we do?”

“Try to wake him, I guess. Don’t know how he don’t hear all this noise. Look at her over there. Got her phone out taking a video. EVERYBODY’S A FUCKING DIRECTOR NOW.”

“You think he’s deaf?”

“How would I know?”

“‘Just with you shouting like that, and he ain’t waking up… I’m guessing deaf.”

“Probably high. A deaf person would’ve felt our presence or something. You know, sixth sense. Like the movie.”


“How old are you?”


“Millennials. You weren’t even born yet.”

“Man you tripping? We doing this or not.”

“A generation of techno-nerds with anxiety issues before you even get out in the real world. Back in my day, suffering was part of life—”

“Look, man, nobody got time for your memory-lane bullshit.”

“No manners neither.” He hooks one of the man’s arms around his neck and grimaces at the odor. “You get the cart. I got him.”

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