Thursday, August 25, 2011
Troubles: A Brooklyn Story
Sometime late December of last year after walking a friend home, I was on my way back to the train station. It was between 1 and 2 AM, cold as death on the intersection of Nostrand and Courtelyou. I wasnt drunk this time I swear. But i was definitely freezing and tired from a long day of work. It's a wrap, got my headphones on zoning out to Mood Muzik 4 while I speed walk as fast as I can to escape this weather. Suddenly I'm stopped by the words of a stranger. "Yo what's up man."
He was a tall, slim dark skinned dude. Real young, probably in his mid twenties. Dont remember what he was wearing but I could tell he was from the Islands. Under normal circumstances dude would have been ignored. Only thing on my mind is getting home safely to my warm bed but something compelled me to stop and I dont know what it is. Im immediately on guard and hostile. Strike one I dont know you. "Yo whats up man?" Speaking to me in a familiar tone bothers the shit out of me, strike two. We're on a dark strip, our faces only slightly illuminated by a spec of moon light and I'm in an unfamiliar hood far from my crib? It's so many things wrong with this scenario that I'm just expecting something bad to happen.
"Yo whats up man?" he says to me again, this time holding his hand out to shake mine. My hands stay balled at my side. "Whats up?" I reply but in a what-the-fuck-you-want tone and a clear look of impatience on my face. "Could you help me please? I havent eaten anything man I'm hungry I dont have nobody. Im from Haiti, but im out here alone." My guard is down now. The desperation in his eyes are real. I had 2 dollars on me that I was gonna spend at the grocery store before getting on the train but fuck it I can spare one. So I hand it to him and he thanks me. He took his fitted off real gentleman-like as he did.
He starts telling me his story, pouring his heart and soul out about his struggle. I'm listening attentively while he gets all this out of him. I'm just trying my best to reassure him he'll be alright. I'm not good at these talks though honestly. I'm a great listener but I rarely give good advice. But he's going off. "If I dont eat something soon man...I gotta do what I gotta do. Somebody gonna get hurt man." His desperation is real. "Dont go that route son it aint even worth it," is what i tell him. It's about time to part ways but I'm thinking to myself he needs this last dollar more than I do. So just as he's thanking me again and about to leave I stop him and give him that last dollar. He cried.
Dude really broke down in tears. hard. Then embraced me with a hug. "Thank you so much, man thank you!" I dont remember a lot from our conversation but he starts getting metaphoric in describing how people close to him did him dirty. "It's like I took them out of the fire, and they just threw me back in it. I did everything for them, gave them everything and they threw me in the fire. Why are people so cruel? Why are they like that?" I knew exactly how he felt. I know what it's like to give your heart to people and get nothing but their ass to kiss in return. "Because people just are," I said to him. "People are just nsturally that fucked up. But not everyone. There are people in this world that care, its not all bad." I could feel my own eyes watering up a little because while I'm telling him this it feels like I'm talking to both us. Reassuring both of us that there's light at the end of tunnel. We start saying our goodbyes again and he asked me my name. He said his is Fitgerald. "Yo if anybody fucks with you man let me know I swear to God I'll handle them....at least I'm good for something right?" And on that note he walked away.
That train ride home was something else man I tell you. All I kept thinking was that moment of kindness on my part may have stopped a desperate young dude from robbing or killing the next person he crossed paths with. He was on edge, ready to explode. But all he needed was someone to listen to him. Literally a shoulder to cry on. When I'm feeling down about my life and things aint going my way, I go back to that night in Brooklyn. No matter what im going through there's guys like Fitgerald going through worse. Lately I can't tell where I'm headed but I'm still blessed to be where I am and I know I'll be alright. I hope Fitgerald is alright too. It's getting cold out here again.