[email composed 21 April 2001]
This afternoon as I walked out the side door of my apartment building and towards my car, I passed a woman asking if I had any change. She was Caucasian with blonde hair, wearing a black parka over her not-quite-overweight frame, and was ostensibly clean (and even seemed reasonably lucid).
I reached in my pocket and handed her a quarter.
She then told me that she had been accosted by a sword-wielding man down the block, who apparently felt this technique would be an effective way to get her to sleep with him. (He also drove a silver, older model BMW, which caused her to jump any time she noticed a shiny car drive by.)
"Hmm. Interesting," I commented, somewhat under my breath, refraining from asking what kind of sword it was (and possibly having to distinguish a sword from a mere dagger if it didn't prove long enough; she didn't seem to be concerned with semantics).
She inquired about my level of familiarity with criminal law regarding such matters, and I replied that I was reasonably sure that there was something in what he did upon which the police would frown.
She wondered if I was with the FBI--apparently she had acquaintances in the Bureau, some of whom flew helicopters, and she felt she needed to get ahold of someone who could do that--but I had to reveal I was not. Continuing her tale without any prompting from me, she told me of moving here from (I believe it was) Florida with an apparently crooked cop with whom she was sleeping (alas, his name has escaped my memory), and who stalked her in San Pedro. This officer, in her opinion, was of the belief that she was an alien. There was another person in law enforcement who was of the belief that both she and her former lover were aliens, but I didn't catch all of that since she related this part as we crossed the street.
When she asked if I thought she should report the man with the sword to the authorities, and I replied that it seemed not a bad idea. I directed her to the police station, one block down and one block over. She exclaimed she was going to do it and started walking determinedly in the direction I had indicated.
I wished her good luck. I didn't ask for my quarter back.
Yesterday as I entered the downtown L.A. train station, I passed a middle-aged Asian woman in a long coat, a pillbox-type hat on her head, and a large bag on her back. She stood very timidly next to a pillar in the walkway, and when she said something as I passed, I had to stop and step back and put my ear near her mouth to understand what she was asking. She wondered if I had a dollar to spare with sweet smile on her face. I reached in and fished a dollar from my wallet without removing it from my pocket, then handed it to her.
"Bless you," she said in appreciation.
"Live long and prosper," I replied, being the first thing that sprang to mind.
emanating the signal in spite of himself
"Our world is merely a practical joke of God."
- Franz Kafka