Saturday, May 4, 2013

I Guess I'm A Hardass

So ... Saturday was an interesting day.

Sure, there was the Kentucky Derby. The Mayweather / Guerrero fight. It was Star Wars Day. ("May the 4th be with you." I'm a Star Wars fan so I completely understand the sentiment ... but when it's said aloud I don't get it. Isn't May the 4th always with you? I mean ... unless you're dead?

Plus it was the annual Free Comic Book Day. And that's not even scratching the surface of all the things happening in my neck of the woods the day before Cinco De Mayo.

Me? I added another interesting event to the list, something that wasn't planned, wasn't thought about and, quite frankly, could have not only been dangerous, but consequential.

I was walking down Colorado Boulevard in the very late morning, the same route the annual Rose Parade moseys down each New Year's Day. I was on a path toward a heretofore unvisited comic shop - Comics Factory - to participate in some of the festivities surrounding Free Comic Book Day.

Minding my own business strolling down the street, I was suddenly aware of someone walking directly behind me ... and I mean on my tail. He was at my rear, but slightly to my right side and uncommonly close. 

Suddenly, a man's voice said: "Don't look back ... don't look back ... don't back up ... don't look back." 

I kept walking, figuring it was one of the possible "colorful" characters you encounter on big city streets - homeless, slightly off-kilter individuals, vagabonds. Usually they're harmless or looking for a handout or talking to themselves (or to some unknown companion). But this guy? He sounded menacing. He sounded as if he was up to something. All of a sudden, I felt my adrenaline level kick up and I became hyper-aware of everything.

"Don't back up now ... don't look back ... I'm going to get you."

What the hell?

In a split second, I checked my surroundings while walking. Open street to my left, a solid building wall with no entrances or egresses to my right and traffic speeding by on the street in both directions. In case there was any trouble I had an escape route - that's all I was concerned with.

"Don't look back now ... you're going to get it."
Not exactly the menace
I ran into Saturday

I stopped dead in my tracks, turned and faced him. "What? What did you say to me?!?"

"Just keep walking, badass. You think you're a badass ... don't you? Don't back up now, just don't. I'm going to get you. Good. You're gonna get it, badass ..."

I put my hands on my hips, took a deep breath and looked solidly at him. I felt uncommonly calm. He was black with brown dirty pants and a faded sweatshirt whose silkscreened image had long since faded past recognition. He was wearing a skull cap, had a beard and a stern look in his eye. He looked to be in his 30s. I steeled myself and boomed at him:

"Don't look back? You're going to 'get' me? Tell you what: Take your best shot ..." 

I shot lasers at him and watched for any reaction. I focused on his hands with my peripheral vision while keeping my eyes frozen on his gaze. His hands were open and a bit twitchy. I waited for him to make any sort of move. I had no idea what his intentions were but, from everything I heard from him and everything I felt up to this point, it didn't feel good. He was up to something ... you could taste it in the air.

He looked at me, sizing me up. He was about the same height as me, a bit shorter, but I knew I had a good 20 pounds on him easily. I could tell he was ready to do something, but what exactly I had no idea. I anticipated the unexpected, I waited for him to reach for something. I could smell it - he wanted to. I stood close enough to jump him and force him to the ground in the event his hands reached for his sweatshirt and I was completely prepared to react at his slightest move. He stood there and looked at me.

"Well? Take your shot" I told him. He hesitated. I saw something in his eyes take a mental step backward.

"Fucking hardass. You don't know who you're dealing with, asshole" was his response. He backed up a st
ep and began moving down the sidewalk and away from me.

I watched him go. I looked around me, there was no one. Cars continued to go by. I felt my nerves begin to calm with each step he took further away from me. He never looked back.

What a strange encounter. I'd never experienced anything quite like that before, especially in the open, in daylight. I was never fearful of the man, but I was on alert to what he could have done ... which, quite frankly, could have been anything.  

.......... Ruprecht ( STOP )