Thursday, February 13, 2014

§TA§O§ - Chapter 4 - COMMUNITY SERVICE - 1/3

42nd Street, Port Authority.
Major Transportation Depot,
Where at any and every time of the Day and Night
The population of NYC be Mainlining the Commuter Hub
For RUSH of the Transport or REST of the Shelter.

It was just after 11 O’Clock when I’d commenced walking the blocks
With my sleep pack on one shoulder;
Picnic pack on the other,
‘CUP of SOUP’ sign in hand and a plan in mind
To give Sustenance to some of those folks you sometimes see about town looking
Visibly Hungry.

In NYC, they were everywhere,
But given my location and knack for navigation,
I figured there was no better place to route way to the Masses of the Penniless
Than to cut straight for
42nd Street, Port Authority.

Police-Presence aside, the area was nothin’ Slim of Shady.
Any and every time of Day or Night you might be walking along innocently enough,
On your way to the Train to suddenly be intercepted by a
Shadow shifting out from its Hoody -
A Dementor Personifying
Into a Humanesque Entity that ceremoniously whispers:

‘Hey Kid, gimme a Dollar.’

Normally you brushed the Shadow aside and kept moving.
But tonight…
Tonight I had my Sign…

“Hey Kid, gimme a Dollar.”

(CUP of SOUP?)
Shadow didn’t know the Light hit him.

“Hey brothal, can I ask you a question?”

(CUP of SOUP?)
Shadow #2 twisted up into dust.

“50 cents, man, to help a guy get a bite to eat.”

(CUP of SOUP?)
As I passed, Shadow #3 expired with a gasp that sounded a lot like an echo I'd heard once before:

“Cup of Soup?”

I was rolling straight through ‘em,
And no,
I didn’t do the charity thing for Shadows frontin’ on a man
That clearly had a place to be.

Jazzed to find my Sign played both offense and D,
I finally turned the corner
And honed in for the Front-Entrance of the Port-Authority,
Towards my man who I’d seen from time to time before -
A real-time Port Authority Old-Timer,
Who standing aside his Full Shopping Cart,
Was Working,
Was holding the P.A. Door wide open for all those entering
And then me.

“Hey, you like KFC?” I asked.

He appeared mighty surprised when I’d asked him that.

“Sure bet I do,” he said.

I handed him the bucket,
And like that,
Old Man done turned Young again.

“God Bless you, Kid,” said the sir.

I winked and went in,
Walking straight for a lonely soul sitting on a suitcase,
Slouched and looking like he were only wantin’ someplace to go.

“You like Double Cheeseburgers?” I asked, reaching into my bag, removing the burger and holding it out to him.

“Yeah,” he said, noting me and my bag suspiciously. “But what else you got?”

Is it possible, me bethought me, that a Micky D Double C wasn’t good enough?
Me bethought me a moment’s notice more,
And decided that given the hour, this lad probably had already had his dinner,
And Thus
Was perhaps roundaboutly inquiring as to whether or not there were any
Delicacies lined up for dessert.

“How ‘bout a Croissant?”

I had hardly put the treat in his hand when a friend of his showed up.

“Where’d you get that Croissant?”

I was still standing right there,
When figuring I'd skip the small talk,
I just reached right in
And removed the brown paper bag,
In which it was carefully nestled.

“Here,” I said, “CUP O NOODLE. Spoon’s in the bag.”

“Shrimp Ramen?!” he nearly exclaimed.

“Don’t get too excited,” I warned, “I don’t know how hot it still is…”

“It’s still warm,” he confided, pleased with exceeding pleasure. “I can feel its warmth through the Styrofoam cup.”

I smiled.

“Well then enjoy it while it’s warm.”

“Kid, you come as a Blessing in Disguise,” he said, “I mean this he’yah a Miracle, is what this is.”

I smiled.

“A Miracle?” I repeated, challengingly. “It’s Soup.”

He didn’t take to my comment kindly.

“You look me in the eye and tell me this Shrimp Ramen Cup O Noodle Soup did not just suddenly appear in my hand.”

Wow, me bethought me, for the rugged state this fella was in, his logic at once appeared a challenge to refute.

“Perhaps it didn’t suddenly appear in your hand,” I said, tentatively, “Perhaps you’ve had it all along, only now, you’ve taken the time to notice.”

Methinks he done took me for an addict right then.

“Kid, I don’t know what you’re sayin’,” he said, “But if you’ve got anything more, there’s more downstairs.”


He hadn’t even started to eat.
He was already walking to the escalator.
He was heading down.

“Come on, I’ll show you.”

So I followed him down,
Along the diagonal,
Slowly being exposed to the camp of weary and worn idlers,
Here for one reason and another,
Loitering amidst bungee-corded bags,
Sleeping across overcoats spread as bed sheets,
Talking and arguing and laughing amidst one another.

My friend ahead of me cut straight into the thick of them.

“Fellas, this guy’s got soup for everybody.”

Now where’d he come up with that,
I wondered,
Watching as one fella who seemed non-affiliated side-swiped me.

“Some place you’re looking to go?”

Before I could answer, he cut straight to business.

“My name’s John the Baptist,” he started, “And any Bus, whatever Shuttle, whichever String you’re looking to catch, I can take you there. The A, C, E, trains are this right way –”

“Actually, I just have some leftover food here…”

I reached into my bag and pulled out the aluminum platter of 7 or 8 pizza slices.

“Care for a slice?”

He nodded.

“I’d appreciate that kindly, my man.”

Of course I had to ask.

“So how did you become John the Baptist?”

He smiled at that.

“Born that way.”

I raised my eyebrows to that.

“Come on,” I said. “Your parents named you John the Baptist?”

“Woah, now, parents?”

He was acting like he hadn't heard the word.

“A Hustler got no kin,” he had me understand. “I was Born in the Authority,” he explained, pointing upstairs. “Became the Baptist once I learned my way around.”

Having taken his piece of the pie,
He walked off,
While I approached the rusted and restless that appeared to be waiting on me.

I held my tin out before me and asked the guy that stood closest:

“You want a slice?”

This guy had a faded tattoo on his face and was frowning something mean.

“Does it look like I want a…”

His sentence trailed off. His eyes were rolling. He was either coming down or going up and I was moving onward.

“How ‘bout you?”

“Man, that pizza looks cold as shit.”


“Freezing,” I confirmed. “Probably around 20 degrees.”

He walked off and another stepped up.

“Cold Pizza, Hot Pizza,” said the next Jovial Fella, in line, “ ‘Long as it ain’t nowhere between.”

He was already opening his mouth
In anticipation of the bite;
His bottom-right canine tooth, loose, resting against his lower lip;


After him, one stepped up after another until that aluminum platter was empty.

“God Bless you, Kid.”

“God Bless you, Kid.”

“God Bless you.”

God Bless Me?

I’m thinking God Bless the Folk of NYC,
Cuz with Super Bowl Sunday Coming Round the Mountain,
I was already ready for Round 2.


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