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The Sort-of-Okay Samaritan

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I wipe the sneaky popcorn kernels I hadn’t noticed in the dark off my jeans and walk with my mother and sister towards the carpeted lobby.
On our way out the door, we spot a man keeled over a plastic take-out bag. One of those plastic take-out bags with yellow, smiling faces. They’re so cheerful, so welcoming. The man is moaning and slurring his words.
I glance at him, and feel some sympathy for this drunken homeless guy who had stumbled into the movie theatre obviously looking for some kind of attention.
I walk passed him. Continue. Go on my way. I have been trained to do this, to keep walking. Drugs and alcohol. That’s all they want.
An elderly woman behind me gasps, rushes over to the man, and asks him if he’s okay.
“I think I’m having a heart attack-huh! Huh! Huh! Unnnng!”
The elderly woman and her husband yell for 911, and a lobby person runs for the phone. A crowd begins to form around this poor man having a heart attack and the wise elderly couple who were kind enough to stop and see what was wrong.
Violent blues and reds from the ambulance flood my vision before I watch the man being carried away on a stretcher.

****

I shake my right leg up and down at our table. The spongy seat is just not comfortable enough for me. How can I eat? Would this man ever eat again? Would he ever come home from work again, kiss his wife on the cheek? Look at himself naked in the mirror, and think of losing some weight? Clip his toenails? Laugh so hard that he couldn’t breathe? Cut him self shaving? Listen to that song and think of that time and wish he were there? Pop open a can of beer, recline on the chair that no one else is allowed to sit in? Wince at the first impact of water from the shower head as it hits his aging skin? Would he ever do that again? Would he ever tell his wife that he loves her plenty, but was always in love with her sister? Pay Gordy back those twenty bucks? Call Joe up from high school and tell him that he was a really big dick? Would he ever get to do that?

“Mom, I feel bad.”
“I know it.” She nodded her head and pursed her lips.
“What? How?”
“Because. I can see in jor face.”
“What am I doing?”
“I am jor mother. I know.”
“I just wish I stopped and helped him … poor guy. And that elderly couple got to and-“
“Joo wanna help?”
”Yeah! I do!”
“Joo see dose people over dere?”

A family a few tables away are taking pictures. It seems as if they could not fit everyone into the same frame.
“Ask dose people if dey would like you to take a picture for dem.”
“Okay,” I said, “Okay, I will.”
And I march on over to the family. I march with a purpose.
“Hi, um. Excuse me?”
The family all have dark features and rather thick eyebrows. They arch them as I, flushed and excited, arrive at their table.
“Do you want me to take a picture of all of you?”
They exchange glances. A man with a little bit of gray around the ears and bulky glasses shakes his head at me.
“No.” He looks back towards his family and they continue talking and laughing and taking pictures.
Not a “No, thanks,” or a “No, we’re okay.” Just a ‘No.’
“Oh, okay. That’s fine.” I walk swiftly back to our table, my cheeks the color of fire trucks racing to put out a fire, save a life.
My mother lets out a loud, braying laugh. Her teeth stay clenched together and I can see the entirety of her gum line.
“Joo still want to help?”




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