by Wishes (Judy)


Don't ever make eye contact. Don't ever make eye contact. Don't ever make...

It's the eyes that do it, you know. You look into the eyes, and they become people. Why? It can't be that "windows of the soul" crap. Most of them don't have souls, you know. Not anymore. They sold them long ago. For booze. Or drugs. Or gave them up while sucking off strangers or coming in some whore's mouth. But, soulless hulk or not, there's something about the eyes.

I see this one in the alley between the laundry and the bodega. You know, the Puerto Rican laundry and the Chinese bodega. Yeah, that alley. Big, so big I think it's a man at first. Hair short, matted. Dark? Dirty. Dirty hair, dirty face, clothes stiff with. . . Ever think about what passes for dirt in this city? Don't.

Bent over, kind of like she's carrying a pack on her back. No pack though. Just layers of shirts that make up for no coat. Pants. Probably more layers. Shoes. No, old work boots. Everything that no-color that could be brown but probably wasn't. Not to start with.

Don't ever make eye contact.

Too late.

She looks up from the garbage she's searching. Straightens, so I get the full sense of the height of her. The width of her shoulders. The power.

Move. Break eye contact and walk on.

I don't.

Her eyes are blue. The whites are still white. Not yellow and veined, like a bad egg.

She speaks. "They say you can be redeemed, the ones who make the rules. But they never say how. Or how long it will take. They won't even say who has to forgive you. Some things I've learned. It isn't the people who hate you. Or that you hate. It isn't the people who love you. I thought for a while if I could forgive myself. . . but I can't. Is it you? Are you the one who can redeem me?"

I shake my head. "It isn't me."

Those eyes search my face. She nods and turns back to the garbage.

Don't ever make eye contact. Don't ever make eye contact. Don't ever make eye contact. . . unless you're the one.


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