In the Elevator,
I wedge my 'CUP of SOUP?' Sign
Between my back and sleep-pack,
In order to free my hands up
In preparation to loosen and untie
My left Dr. Marten Steel-Toe Boot that was hurtin' something awful.
The boots had seen better days...
Just not any time recent.
Between the weather and my daily trompsin',
They were plain as day, wrecked beyond ruin.
Elevator doors opened,
I stepped out and through the automatic sliding doors
To the warehouse-like opening of the Locker Building Entrance
Where I kneeled down
And got to adjusting.
“Arghhh...” I groaned.
Along the seam of the front of the shoe,
Where the leather was once upon a time connected to the sole,
The Steel-Toe of my left boot was exposed,
Stuck at an awkward angle that I was trying to finagle,
As it was clamping the knuckles of my toes.
“Man,” I said, still working to adjust it, “Need to get me out of this Old Brown Shoe...”
The security comes out of his lookout post,
Walking towards the main office,
Being followed by this outrageous kid -
Maybe 24 or 25 years old -
Who is yelling after the guard
Who pays him no mind.
“Why won't my card work?!” he cries -
“Why won't you let me inside?!” he shouts -
“Why won't you let me up to get my stuff?!” he demands.
Security guard pivots hot on the spot.
“You know exactly why...”
Had come to a complete stop at the security guard's most punctual spin move.
Even I was impressed,
Not to mention, a little curious as to what exactly
Temper-Tantrum-Tod had been up to in what must have been his more finer moments.
Without further word,
The security guard turned back around
And entered the Main Office.
And while Tod remained standing in place,
I double-knotted my boot
And stood up.
Suddenly, he noticed I was there.
“Hey you know if there are stairs in this building?
He was tall.
6 feet, approximately.
His choice of apparel suggested the peculiarities
Oft associated with the word 'Hipster.'
He had dark eyes and long, dark hair that rested against his chest.
“Yeah,” I said, “But you're going to need a keycard to get up.”
At my statement,
He looked as though he wanted to ask me something,
But he turned
Walked out the garage and into the night.
I stood there a moment after,
Wondering what hard times this kid was going through,
What he had done, and where he was off to now.
Remembering I had work to do, I got on my way.
I had just started walking up the dark block,
Headed towards Times Square,
Figuring on which highlighted corner would best suit tonight,
When I see Tod,
Leaning against the wall
Like how the Greaser's did back in the 50s
When they had nothing better to do.
Our eyes meet on the pass.
“Good luck with everything, bud,” said I.
He shakes his head.
“It's all so stupid,” said he.
I shrugged and continued on.
30 seconds later,
I hear footsteps catching up with me.
I turn around
And sure enough,
Here comes Tod, appearing as though he were ready with something to say.
“Hey Bro,” he started, “Would it be okay to borrow your keycard to get up to my locker?”
Two words -
'NO WAY' -
Had appeared in my mind almost as fast as I said:
And like that
All the hope,
Tangibly gleaming on his eyes went dark again.
He hunched and turned
And slowly walked back to from where he came.
Without further ado,
I was moving towards the street I was soon to cross,
Entertaining just another one of the many Internal Monologues, in mind -
Each unique in both design and personality -
You've come a long way.
Once upon a time, there wasn't a more slim and supple push-over.
Look at him now.
And a Bro, too...
Likely leading a life like you...
Asking for a helping hand from you...
Kinda sorta exactly like how you're about to go ask for a helping hand -
For a 'CUP of SOUP'
From strangers walking past you.
And what a crazy world you are partaking in creating -
Strangers helping Strangers,
While here you are,
Bro, I don' know what circuits you been splicing into
But you done up'd your game some incredible sum.
Cheers to you.
And to Tod back there,
Stuck outside and all alone in the winter cold.
Hey maybe you could bring him some soup later.
Maybe you could-
“Yo Bro,” I called out.
He turned around as I was walking towards him.
“What floor you on?”
He's lost for words,
Then firmly states -
I stop before him.
“Okay,” I say, “First off, I don't want no trouble.” I looked at the Locker Building. “What's going on between you and them is your business, but that Locker Room is Home Sweet Home for me too. Whatever is about to take place in there - you don't know me, I don't know you. Understood?”
“Good. Here's the plan,” I continued, “I'm going to enter the building. You're going to follow me by about 30 paces, only moving more quickly. I'm going to enter the elevator. I'm going to insert my keycard and press button #6 for the sixth floor – the floor where my locker unit is. Right around then, I am going to look up and see you entering the Elevator. I'm going to leave my keycard in, ask you 'Which Floor?' and you are going to say 'Third Floor,' just like that. I am going to press button #3 and then I am going to press the 'Close Elevator Doors' Button.”
“Sounds like a plan.”
“Remember,” I continued, “There is a security camera in the elevator, and they might be watching. Having said that, you better do what you need to do and get out of there fast. Next time I see you, I want to hear how it all went.”
He smiled at that.
“Let's do it,” he said.
And for those moments between us,
It was like Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer were back together again -
Two ragamuffins fit for wiles and frolic,
All amidst a different episode
Along the same Big River.
I signaled him to stay
And started off down the block
Headed for the Locker Building.
Nearly a minute later,
About to enter the industrial garage opening,
I reached into my pocket for my wallet to pull out my keycard -
Then stopped on the spot.
I started looking across the ground.
Not only was it night, but the whole side of the street was unlit.
Moments later, along came Tod.
“What's the hold up?” he asked.
I started walking back down the block.
“Did you see my sign?”
“Yeah,” I said, “Cardboard. Square. Formerly the foundation of a pizza box?”
He shook his head and I sighed and continued retracing my steps.
I walked the whole block.
No sign in sight.
I was getting restless.
“Can't find it?” he asked.
“Nope,” I said, and casually asked. “It's not in your pocket is it?”
I was looking at his winter coat,
Aware that its thickness could have it
Easily concealed at the very instance.
“Nope,” he said, in the same tone as me. “I don't even know what sign you're talking about.”
I sighed again.
“Alright, well help me look for it,” I said, “We're not going through with the plan till it's found.”
So Tod joined in on the search
While I was peeking between the Moguls
Of Day-Melted/Night-Frozen Ice, piled on both sides of the sidewalk.
I looked beneath cars, parked alongside the road.
I searched all over and around every place feasible,
Finally towards Times Square
Where I had been formerly headed,
When that Internal Monologue returned once again,
With more things to consider.
Hold up - let me ask you this -
How could he say, 'I don't even know what sign you are talking about?'
Doesn't he know you have a Blog on Blogger?
Doesn't he know you zip your routine on the fly?
And regardless of whether he does or doesn't,
Can we both agree that Temper-Tantrum-Tod is Trouble?
You seen it.
You know it.
Now you're in it with the guy, JB.
This kid who stashed your sign when you weren't looking,
Cuz let's face it, JB,
This kid is living in the same hood as you,
Where stacking dimes is a means to getting by.
Your Business is now his Dinner,
And in the meantime,
No Soup for You.
'I can't even believe this...'
And like that,
I'm thinking on the very lines of my neighbor,
Who fifteen minutes prior was reciting:
“...You never do until it happens to you...”
I shook my head to snap myself out of it, when Tod decided to pipe up.
“Maybe it's upstairs...”
“In your locker...” he suggested. “Are you sure you had it when you came down?”
I thought and nodded.
“I'm sure,” I said, then added. “I'm going to go retrace my steps again...”
Again, I turned around and walked the block,
And the further I went, the more positively convinced I became
That it had been ever so neatly stashed by this endearingly smooth criminal.
By the time I had near-reached the end of the block,
My temper had rising to proportions
Sharp as the Shark-Tooth Hacksaw of my Leatherman Supertool...