Smile Politely

An unwanted part of the story

The gun looked big. I suppose it always looks big when it’s pointed at your face. It was silver and shiny. It was a revolver. I don’t know anything about guns, but it looked like the kind the man with no name would wield.

I just got off work and walked a friend to her house. I dropped her off and turned down Race and then California. About halfway through the block, by the D.C.F.S. building where my father worked, I heard footsteps running behind me. I turned around and heard, “Give me your wallet.” I looked up and there was the big silver gun.

There were two of them. They circled around me and told me to turn around. I turned toward the building and stared at the brick. He told me again to give him my wallet. My first reaction was to laugh, to say that’s not a real gun, to tell them to go home and leave me alone. But something in my mind stopped me. It was a second before I could say, “I don’t have a wallet, but I do have cash.” I took it out of my front pocket and handed it behind me. He took it and they ran off.

I stood, staring at the ground for a moment more. My thoughts were somewhere between “well, that was something” and “what do I do now?”

I’ve always been interested in crime. It’s what I primarily focus on in my reporting. I love the real story behind criminals. They aren’t monsters. They’re humans who choose to work outside of society’s chosen morals. That’s always been my thought but, then again, I’ve never had an actual crime committed against me.

I hesitated about calling the police for a moment. I turned around and started walking home, but then reason got the better of me. I work two jobs and try to write when I can. My money is precious to me — why should they be able to take it by force? Also, if that gun was real and loaded, which I sincerely doubt, they could hurt someone else. I called the police. I told them I didn’t see their faces. I told them that one had a big black jacket and the other was tall. I’m sure I was a big help. Before I was off the phone, an officer drove up. I told her the same thing. Half an hour later, she said they had someone and asked me if I wanted to ID him. She took my pocketknife and put me in her squad car.

The back of the car smelled strongly of sweat and the seats were made of hard, molded plastic. I’m about average height, but I was still cramped. There were strange smudges on the glass and a sign that told me I was on camera. I asked her if there are many instances of this around here. “Sort of,” was all she said.

She drove to where they had the suspect and let me look at him. She asked me if it was one of the guys. I said, “Maybe, but I don’t know.” Definitely not the guy with the gun because his jacket wasn’t big enough. They took the handcuffs off him and let him go. And he walked away.

The officer spoke into her radio, “Transporting the victim.” I don’t feel like a victim. Nothing happened. I just lost a few dollars, but I didn’t get hurt. I’m not scared to walk those streets again. I don’t feel like I’d be safer carrying a gun. I don’t really know what I’m supposed to take from this. Or if there is anything to take. All I know is, that was a fucking big gun.

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