Or: A lesson in self-discovery
There I was. Caught in a classic catch 22. Take out the phone and make the call, risk being harmed or worse, killed, for a stupid BB (yes, right then, the damned thing seemed stupid and bothersome). Or not make the call and risk being stuck under that old shed with these strangers till midnight. I needed to go home. Badly. Cold, hungry and tired were beginning to make inroads on my will.
I took a careful look at the men around me. One was in shabby clothes, obviously a street runner (one of those men who spend all of their productive and consequently unproductive years on the side of the road harassing beautiful ladies, getting high, loading buses and dodging the police ... an absolutely judgmental description, but, I promise you, also absolutely true). One was a really big and tall dude in a khaki uniform - I shuddered. He was a schooler but he looked like maybe he had repeat several grades several times. Scary. Another looked like he worked on a construction site, in a lumber yard, or some such place. Short, thick, muscular, hulkish. He was sighing and hissing his teeth a lot and I thought he could rip the phone from me with one brisk motion. The last man wasn't so bad. He was tall but thin - almost to a fault. I looked at him and felt a small measure of pity and solace. He looked so sad and malnourished. If push came to shove, I could probably take him out.
The woman sounded like a security guard. She was short and fat. Maybe she would come to my rescue if I needed it. It never crossed my mind that she could have been antagonistic toward me - funny how and when our biases are revealed.
I looked around me at this circle of strange faces, and thought to myself that before the great and terrible heavenly outpouring, they were all just regular people on their way somewhere. They were stuck under this shed, just like I was, and it was very possible that, at this moment, they were all more preoccupied with their own worries and troubles than they were with me and my BB. Maybe they hadn't even noticed me!
I stepped closer to a damp corner, and turned to face the wall. I slid my BB out of my handbag, and took another quick glance at the faces around me. Maybe they weren't criminals after all. I rang a friend and was halfway through relating my sorry dilemma when a bright flash of lightning struck - literally before my face!! I screamed at the same time that a huge peal of thunder clapped, and everybody looked in my direction - at me and my BB.
I looked back at them and felt like a mouse trapped in the limelight, one hand clutching my handbag to my side and the other halfway through a wave (don't ask me how or why) with the phone held up in the air, visible for all to see ...
Funny how sometimes the things we try hardest to hide are the things that find their own way into the limelight. Funny how much we can learn about ourselves in our darkest hours.