PEOPLE WATCHING

“Look, Benny. There’s another one.” says Smitty.
“Another what? Where?”
“Those people…you know, the earbud people.”
“Where? I don’t…”
“Open your eyes, you old goat. Over there, standing up, 3 o’clock.”
“Oh yeah, Smitty. Yeah I see.”
“Not good enough, obviously. Thought those prescriptions were new. You’re still blind for Krist-sake.”
“Nearsighted is not blind. My eyes have to adjust. And…the eye doc said I have night vision issues. Glare bothers me.
“Well excuse me. Sundown curfew for you, Stevie Wonder.”
Smitty grabs his cane and taps Benny’s leg.
“Hey. Look at him now. The earbud guy. He’s bopping his heads along to the muuuuuusic.”

“Maybe he’s an entertainer. You know an artist.”
“No he’s not. He just one of them…you know. One of them types.”
“What types?” Benny asks, puzzled.
“Look at him, Benny. You know what he’s listening too. That…boom-da-da-boom-da-da-boom. Get your freaky-deaky on…the raunchy music they play now days.”
“How can you tell, Smitty? I mean..”
“Just look at him…and don’t strain yourself.”
Benny gives the guy a good long look. Smitty confirms by pointing at the guy in question then turns back to Benny.

“See there. He’s got that crazy unkept hair. Droopy pants. Boots. And he’s wearing an army fatigue jacket…you know, for the style. The military wouldn’t have him! Not his type.”
“His type? Smitty you can’t say…”

Smitty points at the earbud guy again.
“Look! He’s bopping harder. Flailing his arms all about…jerking…doing a dance!!!”

“So what!” Benny shouts.

“He’s a gangster.” Smitty fired back.
“Whah?”
“A gangster. A gang banger. You know, like, a Blood, Crip…maybe he’s a Latin King?”
“Huh? Gangsters….in Maine? Besides he’s just listening to music.”
“Nooooo. Not just listening to any kind of music, Benny. That stuff there, pumping into his head is poisonous.”
“How so?” Benny asks.
“I heard it before…the rap. Rappers and these so called R&B singers…all talk about how much money they have, selling and doing drugs. And sex. Always sex! Boom-da-da-boom, sex. Boom-da-da-boom, money. Boom-da-da-boom, drugs.”
“Okay, I get it. But what makes you think this earbud guy is a gang banger or violent?” Benny ask, unconvinced.
“Cause I know the type. I bet he’s got a gun. Oh’yeah he’s got one…right in the waistline. One sudden move he’ll kill us all!”
“That’s just nonsense.”
“Your blind, Benny, but you read the papers don’t you? You read the stories.”
“Yes Smitty, I do. But there’s only one way to truly find out.”
“How?” Benny asks, intrigued.

“Ask him. Prove you’re right. Just walk up to him and ask him everything you just accused him of being.”
Smitty thought about it.

“No. I don’t want to disturb the guy.

“Right.” Benny waves Smitty on.
“Okay. I’ll do it. And you’re going to get another pair of prescriptions when I come back with proof.”
“Agreed!”

“Better hope, Mr. Earbud-Gangbanger doesn’t shoot me.”

Benny stands up with his cane and begins to search for more confidence in his stroll toward the earbud guy, who’s continuing bopping and dancing.
When he reaches the man, Smitty stands there to see how long it took for him to notice. He thinks to himself,

I’ll show Benny this…


“Excuse me, sir. May I help you?”
Caught off guard by the stranger’s alertness, Smitty puts both his hands up as if he’s being robbed. Before his cane falls to the floor, the earbud guy catches it and gives it back to Smitty.
“Thank you. Kind of you. Sorry, to disturb you, young man. Ummm my friend and I have a little debate going on about music…what the youth are listening to and such… among other things. Anyway, we noticed you over here dancing…thought we’d ask.”
“Beethoven’s 5th!”
“What?”
“I’m listening to Beethoven’s 5th Symphony in C minor. Considered one of Ludwig Van Beethoven’s masterpieces, sir. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. Although I don’t think many young people are listening to classical.”
Smitty jaw drops slightly. He’s stuck for a fraction of a second.
“Yes, of course. Yes indeed, I’m a huge fan of Beethoven’s 5th.”

Earbud guy extends his hand.
“Sir. I’m Johnathan Drummond. I’m meeting my cousin here at the mall. We served together in the army. Three tours, Afghanistan. We volunteered for the last one. If you and your are friend free…care to join us for lunch? My treat, sir.”

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