By Anna Marie
He cornered me – the same way drivers in New Jersey often corner other drivers in standstill traffic. I remember the way he stood – arms at his sides, head drooped down, lips pursed tighter than I’ve ever seen. He rocked back and forth, teetering on his feet like a lopsided table. For a second, he pressed himself against me and I could smell him. The fragrance wafted up and surrounded me – both sporty and musky with a hint of smoke. I will forever associate this scent with him. Men are distinct like that I suppose. His clothes – a hooded sweatshirt, straight leg jeans, sneakers – were all perfectly clean and well taken care of. From what I could see of his eyes, they appeared blue – that blue that is so close to green you really need to look intently to discern one color from another. His eyes showed concern, anxiety, desire… but they were welling up with tears.
He outstretched his hands and grabbed at me. I winced. What more could I do? His hands were delicate looking things, no cuts, no calluses; hardly the hands of a working man. His skin was so smooth and young – fresh. Freckles here and there made him slightly more real but overall he was transparent.
I clutched my purse intently with both hands but he insisted on having it. The thought raced through my head of letting him have it but I just couldn’t give it up without a fight. After all, it was mine. He continued pulling at the purse, pushing me into the wall as he tried to force it away from me. His cinnamon hair swung in his face, obscuring those marine eyes. I struggled to maintain my balance. I refused to utter a word, not even a scream or a whimper. I was too intent on holding onto what was mine.
Finally, he jerked the handbag free from my hands. He jumped back, clutching the purse tight against his chest. He looked at me, a few moments passed and then he was crying. He whispered his apologizes to me. The reasons…the need…it all poured from him. He mumbled about the overpowering need that was consuming him – he couldn’t control himself. He didn’t know what was happening to himself. I just couldn’t identify with what was happening. I couldn’t understand the terms he was using, the slang…none of it. What did he need so bad that it would require him to rob the elderly? Where were his parents? Why me?
He fumbled through my bag, unearthing my wallet. He stripped it of the cash and carefully placed the wallet back inside my bag. As surprising as it sounds, he handed my purse back to me. He apologized again for taking my money. He spun on his heel and was gone in an instant, scrambling to a hooded specter on the next corner.