“Ain’t nothin’ hard” says the man who has been shot four times. Outside of a bar on 9th ave — or was it 7th — he tells me with a shrug, “Ain’t nothing hard.” The cripple was Puerto Rican and his cousin, an Israeli. His girlfriend, beautiful.
Then he did something incredible. He turns to primo and says, “Hey can you buy me a bottle?” With a certain pride he went. Almost militantly, this man’s love took him into the deli. Out he came with the biggest jug of orange juice he could find. He then empties it out on 7th ave. Or was it 55th st? Regardless of the purlieu. The creosote streets, the putrescent gutters, now mixes with the orange liquid. Then the mechanical animal rode off a few feet away from the bar with bottle in lap.
Without asking a single question. Or batting a single eye. I buried myself into my iPhone — as if it was the polite thing to do. As if he was embarrassed. Like it was shameful. A grown man, a well groomed man, still in excellent shape urinating in an orange juice jug from his wheel chair. 9th ave has probably seen it before, but this was a first for me.
He then dumps the urine in to the streets. It cascades the orange juice, it dances with the oil. It lives in the gravel amongst the daily servings of coffee, spit, semon, sweat, shit, piss. As I pretended to read a text at 4:00am, the Israeli told me about how fake his girlfriend was in LA. “With the breast implants, and the hair, and the lips — I was like fuck — I have to bring you around my family yo. So she had to go.” Admirable. I nodded my head at him. A man who wants more in life than what’s pretty.
The orange juice and urine dispenser is tossed in the garbage can. 3 point shot. The cripple nailed it. We crossed the street. He never told me why he got shot. Or why he pees in a bottle. He did tell me today was his first night in NYC and that anything is possible. I told him what I want to do in my life. How it weighs on me. I told him with the fewest words possible. I was the one too ashamed now.
How could I tell him about the feelings of failure? The constant barrage of reminders of inadequacies? How can I tell him of my fears of a dream deferred. My throat was caked with powder. Things were not to be said. But with all my heart I tried to find the right way to say something. Anything.
He watched me struggle to maintain. As if he knew he knew what was going on in my head but I didn’t. He knew the waves of rational that were to come now. How small his presence made my problems. He has done this before. He will do it again. The power to give others strength. He nodded his head to me. Shrugged his shoulders. “Ain’t nothing hard.”