They were all walking on the sidewalk on the other side of the street, along the street that Haley and I would be walking on if we turned south. Two of them looked like trouble, or like the sorts who want to look like trouble. A tall black kid and a hawk-faced white kid, both dressed in urban gangsta wear that looked a little Vanilla Ice preposterous and a lot out of place in Nanticoke. New York imports, I thought, or gangsta wannabes. They were loping along with a gait that suggested they meant business, and they were rapidly approaching the third figure.
The third figure was a little old lady of indeterminate age. She looked younger than my grandmother, who died in her late 80's, but older than my mother, who is in her early 70's. She had a sort of arrogant primness to her bearing, and a purse loosely slung over her right shoulder. Which seemed to be the side her followers were aiming for.
I sized up the situation, and once again decided to get involved.
Haley and I crossed the street and turned south. I have no real knowledge of my appearance, a mental blind spot that is part willful ignorance, part self-loathing, and part
Perhaps the two gangsta wannabes thought so. We had no sooner gotten to their side of the street, facing them, than they decided to cross the street to the side Haley and I had just come from.
As they were doing this, perhaps the little old lady decided that the street was a little less treacherous-looking than the ice-covered sidewalk in front of her. Or maybe she just didn't like the looks of me at all. She got off the sidewalk and onto the street, placing herself for a few seconds in front of the two potential purse-snatchers.
I passed all three of them on our now-divergent trajectories, then turned and watched them all. The two lopers continued along on the other side of the street, well past the little old lady. After I had decided that the danger was past, we moved on.
That was Friday. My church, which is just a block or so from where all of these events took place, has a Saturday afternoon Mass which my friends and I go to as a way of freeing up our Saturday evenings and Sunday days. My mom goes to that Mass, too. I was driving her home Saturday after the services. We had stopped at Burger King to pick up burgers for Haley (she likes them, and who the hell am I to deny anything to her at this stage of her life?) and were weaving through town on a circuitous route.
We had just made the turn past the city park when I began telling my mom about the adventure of the day before. As I came to a stop sign and was getting to the "Two of them looked like trouble" part, a three-dimensional illustration helpfully materialized on the crosswalk in front of our car. "And there they are!" I said, as the two kids crossed the street in front of us. They were still dressed in ghetto fashions, but completely different outfits. It took me a few seconds to realize that this was the same street I had seen them on the day before, but we were about half a mile north of where the encounterr had happened.
So what was the story? Were they two chums out taking their daily exercise? Two thugs prowling the streets for unsuspecting little old ladies? I have no idea. Maybe I had prevented a purse snatching the day before, and maybe I was just judging two kids based on their appearance. I don't know. I had never seen them before, and haven't seen them since. But if their first appearance was odd, their second appearance sure was a hell of a coincidence, or a maybe even a case of synchronicity.