Of Gangs and Angels

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I wr   ote this piece a few days ago. I tabled it because it didn’t flow right. Even though it had the aroma of moth-balls when I scanned it this morning, a few sprinkles of edit-rewrite clorox did the job.  The guy on this bus is an old memory: You may know him if you have ever ridden on the Ho   nolulu Bus system: He’s the guy holding his baggy pants up with one hand, and a plastic foam cup in his other — he waddles to the rear of the bus, sits down, stands up, moves, sits down. A rather amazing performance. I dedicate this piece to his unknown name.

I’m riding the bus to the county clinic appointment for an anti-virus shot. I can’t be late. This doctor is just a cog in the wheel, too. More of that Pentacle energy. Not my strong suit. I hope the bus is on time.  I rely on it to move my cogs, you know.

The bus is full and three members of the local franchise of the Hock-a-Loogie Gang just got on. The bush leagues for the real gangs, but these adolescents are the training ground for the real ones. These guys are pretty civilized to us older folks. We don’t present a threat, and it’s considered bad form to mug an old guy on the bus. Still, the vibe is there. We Portlanders tolerate each other, but the testosterone knows all.

The bus stops. A guy wheezes up the steps, shows his bus-pass and stumbles to the back of the bus. He fishes his pants for a grimey rag and blows. He stuffs it back in his pocket and wobbles back to the bus. The gang parts and relocates. One of them sits next to me.

I say hi, and thank him for the respect his friends had shown by getting out of his way and giving him a seat.

The entry-level Gangster Specialist turned toward me and said: “No way. Nobody wanna touch guys like that. They have shit you don’t wanna catch. Turn you into a vegetable.” He coughs. I turn my head.

It’s the virus thing. We are obsessed with health-care. Everybody is concerned — especially from the most unexpected people.

Ah, the power of the snot-rag. When the Angel of Illness waves of it’s incense, the crowd parts. And I thought Sandy’s Ninja breath weapon was a joke!

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