there was a woman a few turns in front of me. 30 yards behind me, someone shuffling along playing an mp3 on his cell phone.
sometimes the skyway freaks me out. teenaged boys think of it as a warm place to hang out and swear. it's well lit, though. and you would think someone would have better sense than to stab you in a corridor that is 50 percent windows. usually i feel safe, or at least safe-ish. on the other hand, i've watched two movies this week starring random crimes. [in one of those movies jodie foster played a woman with a male fiance. i found that far less believable than her as a vigilante].
naturally, i start to brace myself to get shot in the back of the head, just like the kid in "boys n the hood." clenching my shoulders like i was standing under a spray of cold water.
if i were attacked by someone without a weapon who was approximately my height and weight with a similar amount of muscle mass, i believe i could put up a good fight. if the jacking deviates from those conditions, i'm screwed.
in the late 90s, there was a self help book that damn-near walked itself off the shelves of barnes & noble. i never read it. but i did stuff it into plenty of plastic bags decorated with a sketch of what a rotten potato would look like if it played mark twain in a movie. through some sort of osmosis, i learned to not discredit the fear instinct.
i turned around. it was a man. early 20s. bulky coat. face obscured.
so i sped up. then i slowed down, poker face like.
then i saw the skyway's maintenance worker: i guy who i imagine would throw this punk down on the floor, hold a mop at his neck and spit "not in my skyway."
i slowed down even more, all while making my legs look like they were moving faster. it's tricky, but do-able.
my would-be assailant caught up to me.
they say that in situations like this you should face your attacker. acknowledge him. humanize yourself.
"what are you listening to?" i asked him.
he told me it was music he'd made with his cousin.
i told him it was good.
he asked me what my name was.
i said jessica.
he told me why he was here in duluth and his hopes and dreams for his future.
then it started to feel like he was getting flirty, in that indiscriminate flirty way that some boys throw at anything that doesn't have a mustache.
i decided that i need to learn the fine line between humanizing and making friends.
but hey! i didn't get strangled, my blue and lifeless body tossed into a dumpster behind the holiday inn. so that's good.