I'm listening to Tomorrow Comes Today by the Gorillaz on my IPod as the snow comes down outside. This city is hot and the snow doesn't stick. The remaining snow from the last storm grows upward though from the dusting.
I'm sitting inside the laundromat watching my underwear circle around and around. The glass is fogging up as the drum turns my clothes. It's mildly hypnotizing and momentarily pulls me away from the reality of doing this small part of an "ordinary life". It doesn't last long as a loudmouth drug dealer comes in and exchanges words with one of his young workers standing in the laundromat to avoid the cold. For a second, I contemplate not taking this day off and visiting him later during the night but the building blizzard conditions and my sheer exhaustion snaps me back to my mini-vacation mode.
I take the last sip of my hot chocolate as the next song comes on- Amy Winehouse's In My Bed with Nas' Made You Look's beat underneath it. It's a good remix that I've grown to like.
I check on the time left on my clothes and then go next door to the corner store to get a refill. Two other young hustlers are in there talking to one of the guys behind the counter. They ignore me as I hear a familiar sound come from their direction. I recognize the crackle of a taser in use by the store worker. The young dealers are friends in this delicate neighborhood balance so he freely shows him the weapon as a sign of solidarity and a very mild warning to be spread to their associates. I make note of this for two reasons- it might backfire and draw undue attention for him and, more importantly to me, I don't want to be accidentally shocked in panic. I was almost hit by a bat by the overzealous owner when I stopped a robbery here three weeks ago. I pay for my chocolate drink and return to the laundromat.
The young worker is now outside with another of his friends engaged in a bad rap freestyle battle. I smirk to myself and turn up the volume on my headphones as I open the door and find a seat again.
I try to lose myself in the music and forget about a few things but, as always, reality seeps into my thoughts. I wonder if "regular people" think this much about work when they aren't working. Maroon 5's Sunday Morning isn't making me think less about the little things I have to do- iron clothes, wash the dishes I have neglected for the past week, get new armor plating for my rib guards, pick up more eyeblack, buy milk... This day is too long and it's only 10 AM, although that may have something to do with sleeping for just 2 hours. Couldn't even sleep on the bus ride home with all the kids yelling. Was I that loud at that age?
The song switches to Obie Trice's Bodyguard and I'm back to just thinking about last night. Back in my mind, breaking down the fight between me and the three guys, looking for my weaknesses and thinking about what can be improved on.
They were trying to attack that woman when I heard her scream get cut off. I scrambled across the rooftops toward where I had last heard her voice. They didn't hear me until I landed on top of the trash dumpster. I tackled the two closest to me before they could fully turn around. Their friend saw me coming but didn't have time to warn his buddies. I knocked one unconscious but the other was able to take a shot at my ribs. He went to kick again and I grabbed his ankle and twisted until I heard a crack. I normally didn't go for breaking bones if there was another option but I also have less patience for sexual predators. I hit him in the thigh while he was on the ground and then used my tonfa to knock him out with two cracks to the skull. By this time, the third one had a knife to the woman's throat. He was threatening her if I didn't go away but it was already too late for him. My weapon shot out my hand and caught him right in the temple. The woman was cut on her neck. It was a small nick; I had gotten worse from shaving. Still, I should have been quieter on my landing, I left myself too open for the second man's press and the tonfa should have left my hand quicker.
I would have to work on this and become faster are the thoughts that run through my head as Sia's Breathe Me begins to play. It's perhaps to melancholy for this particular moment and I press forward pass several 50 Cent and Jay-Z songs. I finally stop at Daydreamin' by Lupe Fiasco. Jill Scott's vocals are perfect as a watch an old college t-shirt slowly tumble. I flash back to a simpler time for me. I was young and naive. I believed in justice and that it existed for good people in the world. I was in love and rich and the world was mine.
Then the armed robbery happened and Sarah was snatched away from me. She died in my arms. They killed her even after they had all the money. The police caught them and they got a slap on the wrist. It felt like someone punched me in the gut. Everything got destroyed and broken even my dreams on that day. I turned away who I was and a new persona arose from the ashes of my former happy life. A being dedicated to justice and balancing the scales. The old me is buried deep and I use his old face as a mask. But that's all it is. This is the new me and I won't stop until I am stopped. Permanently.
What is this playing right now? Which NERD Rock Star remix is this? I like the group but this is too much getting pumped music. I'm beginning to move pass the focus I need and go back to white hot anger.
I hit stop.
My clothes are finished. I don't even attempt to fold them. I'll deal with them at home later. I load all of it into my bag and cinch it tight. I adjust my hat and press next and play.
I am greeted to the sounds of Oh My God by A Tribe Called Quest. I know that despite everything that has occurred and will occur, today will be a good day. I will stick to the mission and keep my faith and fight the good fight.
I push open the door and go out into the beautiful, cold day.