Last night, around dusk, my little Queens neighborhood briefly turned into a Keystone Kops montage.
I'm walking down the street, past the little Turkish grocery, past the new Tui-Na bodywork/manicure place, past the 99 cent store and the weirdly depersonalized automated video-rental place and any number of pubs and delis and laundromats. Suddenly the comfortable ambient noise of corner chat and hollering kids becomes much more sharply focused: footsteps pounding up behind me. A kid, maybe about thirteen or fourteen, small, lithe, and scared-looking, darts past, followed hard upon by several uniformed cops. Sadly, the pedestrian variety doesn't have sirens. They thunder down the block, cross the street, and momentarily disappear out of view. Some of the other locals and i make eye contact, quizzical: wha who? Shrug, keep going.
Shortly afterward there are other runners jogging after the cops-n-robbers scene: an older man, who has the trifecta of balding, long grey ponytail, AND a combover; and his younger female companion.
When I get to the corner there is a Scene in process. Across the street, the cops have converged on the lad and have him pinned and surrounded on the ground.
Over here, though, the drama's just getting started, as Ponytail and his irate female companion are trying to...well, it's not really clear -what- they're trying to do, but anyway they're talking in very, very angry and scoldy tones to two young girls, who look both sullen-defiant and scared.
Ponytail: (gesturing to scene across street) You see? You see that? If it wasn't for you, this wouldn'ta happen.
Girl: We didn't do anything.
IFC: The hell you didn't. You saw it. You protected him (them?). Now your parents are gonna find out, how you like that, huh? Maybe you'll go to JAIL.
Girl: We didn't DO anything, we don't even KNOW him--
IFC: (overlap) I don't give a damn! --Yes, you DO. We SAW you. You covered up for him. That's a crime. I'ma tell those cops. You'll see. You're in so much trouble.
Girl: (pause, then) Yeah well, I'll just tell them you were stalking us, cause that's a crime too.
Ponytail: (angrily bellows something or other, everyone's yelling by now)
I missed the next bits as i was openly rubbernecking with the rest of the gathering crowd at the saga across the street. Next thing, though, I catch Ponytail lunge and hold out his arms as if to block the girls from leaving, as they try to do just that.
Random neighbors, variously: Hey, what are you...? Man, you can't do that.
Girl: (overlap) See, you can't DO that...
In the confusion, the girls manage to feint past the guy and run for it.
(continuing through and over this)
Someone: You can't just threaten kids like that, if you think they did something go tell THEM (points at cops).
Everyone's shouting and kibitzing by now. I leave shortly after the newcomers who've just trotted up and tuned in go, Wha hoppened? and it becomes clear that no one actually has any better idea than I do. Ponytail and Irate are still there, but they're not talking. Just glaring ferociously, still.
So, sorry, no button on this scene; your guess is as good as mine.
p.s. Happy Independence (Week): one way to honor it, go check out the Blog Against Theocracy, a post for which is yet another thing that I had planned and didn't get to. As always, I am with y'all in spirit.