Living with a hairís trigger

 

The guns appear a second after my waitress spills coffee on him, and I know I have to do something before somebody gets killed.

I just donít want it to be me.

Maybe Iím a fool for taking over my fatherís place after the neighborhood changed.

Italians, Germans and Jews donít live here any more; Blacks and Latinos do, and on some nights like this one, everybody seems to have a gun.

Even the people have hair-triggers, ready to go off even over the most innocent thing.

My father had to deal with junkies and crack addicts.

My grandfather, bootleggers and mobsters.

Me, I get these guys and sometimes, Gals, and I wonder when it might get better.

I keep hoping the yuppies discover this part of town so I can get rich, though deep down I know Iím not a yuppie kind of person.

Black, Italian, Latino, Jew Ė these are real to me, people I can talk to, people I can connect with even if theyíre trying to kill me.

I tell my son heís not going to go into this business the way I did.

Yet I see the glint of greed in his eyes and think maybe heíll do better with the yuppie types than I could do.

And I ask myself where I went wrong.

How do you teach your children when they get their own ideas from someplace else?

The big man with the gun turns towards me as I approach.

I see pain and anger in his eyes, and I understand it.

It is the look Dinosaurs must have had when they saw the end of their way of life coming at them.

It is the look I see in my own eyes each morning in the mirror when I shave.

I apologize to the man.

I offer him a napkin and a free meal

But I am really telling him how sorry I am for both of us as our world comes to an end and we are helpless to save it.

His finger eases off the trigger.

His eyes show he understands.

He grumbles and says for me not to let it happen again and sits back down waiting for the next thing to see him off, all of us knowing there is always something else coming.

 

 


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