Chewing the Mottled Concrete

On The Ave just before quitting time, sun an hour from her coup de grace. Two young brawlers and a siren coming down the way. The boys have the sideways lids and baggy asses, girl is lead-thin with white runners and a half-bath dye job. The guys are on their phones, yakking it up and playing like badasses, arms swinging wide and strides daring a step-to or a sideways glance. Girl waves her hair around and hides behind 1976 sunglasses. One of them kicks the glass of a phone booth on the corner of 82 and 107. I’m on my way across, so I hit the walk button and wait. They wait too. Blonde’s phone rings and now they’re all on the blower, talking shit at 3:30 on a Thursday. Light turns and we start off. The crew moves deliberately slow across the road, hoping that the light will turn and they’ll block traffic for a moment or two. I’m across and they’re barely half way. I’m walking backwards a bit to see what happens. The light shifts. The last lane is empty. Red to green. They’re in the crosshairs and a 79 Monte – moving like it’s got a pair – slams on the binders, stops less than 18 inches from their knees. They don’t budge or cringe. One of the tough guys gives the driver the finger. Driver peels off with a screech. They turn and head away from me down the street, all hubris intact, their brush with death seemingly inconsequential.