As most of us are probably aware, New York City plays host to a variety of street people. As you wander the streets you can see musicians, magicians and various acting troupes all performing their acts in an effort to gain your attention and maybe offer up a charitable donation to reward them for their efforts. Back when I was living there I had many encounters with these types of people and most of them are lost to the ravages of time but one clearly sticks out in my mind and I still have the occasional nightmare and a physical reminder about it to help me remember my actions and what I had done.
On the face of it, the antagonist in this story seems innocent enough. It’s about a mime. Oh, this was not your typical harmless Marcel Marceau kind of mime. You know the ones I’m talking about. They’re mostly associated with the streets of Paris, France where they can be seen in their white faced pancake makeup with darkened highlights around their eyes and lips, black and white striped shirt and a pair of black trousers held up by suspenders. Maybe they also wear a beret or have a pair of white gloves that cover their hands as they perform their comic routine much to the delight of the French citizens and assorted tourists.
No, the mime that haunts me was not the passive French variety at all. This was a New York City kind of mime and had all of the attitude that went along with it.
My mime had a long scraggly flea infested beard and his face was painted blood red. His pitch black hands were tipped with inch long red fingernails that were razor sharp and what few teeth he had remaining were stained yellowed and cracked. His dread locked hair hung down well below his shoulders
He’d park himself in the heart of the financial district at the corner of Broad and Wall Street and do his “act” which mostly consisted of harassing those of us who were just trying to go about our business and make it through another grueling day. His harassment technique also included making demanding gestures and pointing at the box at his feet for people to give him their hard earned money as a form of compensation.
Like most typical New Yorkers, for the most part I’d ignore him. I’d pass him by without so much as glance as if I’d had tunnel vision and be on my way. Then, one day, things took a turn for the worst.
Working in the financial sector is cruel to say the least. Only the top producers are rewarded and it becomes a case of “eat or be eaten” and I guess it was my turn to feed the beast. I arrived at my desk and was greeted by a host of security guards, was unceremoniously canned and escorted out of building with what few possessions I could fit in a cardboard box. With nothing to do or nowhere in particular to go I decided to stop by the corner of Wall and Broad and take in the mimes act.
He did his shtick to a small crowd and then proceeded to badger them for money. When he got to me I put down the box and then did something that would change my life forever.
Maybe it was because I was in a shitty mood or maybe I’m just like the rest of the world and hate fuckin’ mimes in the first place. I lowered the box to my feet, put both hands in my pockets as if to make a donation to him and pulled out nothing but two middle fingers. I then proceeded to laugh in his face, gathered up my shit and took off.
I think it’s the practice for mimes to remain silent when they’re giving their performance but after I got ten or fifteen yards away my ears were blasted with a blood curdling scream. I turned towards the commotion and was greeted with the sight of the mime bearing down on me with his hands extended toward my neck and spittle flying out of his mouth.
Outside of a few schoolyard skirmishes that I had in my youth this was the first time that I was faced with a fight or flight response. For a brief second I froze in my place but then my Marine Corps training kicked in. I dropped my belongings and assumed a defensive stance and as he drew near crashed the bottom of my right hand where it joins at the wrist smack between the mimes eyes. He dropped as if he’d been struck by a bullet and lay there twitching a bit and a small crowd gathered around him.
I probably should have left it there and headed off home. However, given the circumstances of the day I decided to finish the job. I pounced on the mime much like a predator would after his prey. I wrapped my hands around his throat and with every fiber in my being squeezed the life out of him. I was watched as his eyeballs bulged like two cue balls in his head and looked like they were going to explode until they finally closed and death, sweet death, overtook him.
One would think that the crowd that had gathered would have done something to stop me. One would be wrong. I guess they shared my hatred of mimes and I swear they were cheering me on as I strangled the life out of him. After I finished the job I took off running and never looked back.
From what I heard, the cops questioned many members the crowd that witnessed the events that transpired and for the most part they “mimed up”, remained silent and refused to answer any questions. I thought was in the clear.
Like most big cities, especially in the financial district, there are security cameras everywhere and my image wasn’t immune to being captured. About a week later, so was I as the cops beat down my door, handcuffed me and hauled me off to jail where I could await trial. My lawyer tried to offer up the novel “it’s okay to kill a mime” defense and argued that “whenever you see a mime, the law lends you the right and the obligation to kill it” whether it’s your average everyday run of the mill mime or the evil one that I encountered. While many members of the jury agreed, the state wasn’t having any of it.
For the result of my actions I was sentenced to spend my remaining days in solitary confinement where it seems I’ve become much like a mime himself, destined to remain silent and hated by those around him.
I can’t tell if I did the world a favor by ridding it of one more mime, ugly as this one was and truth be told, I don’t know if I’m the good guy or the bad guy in this story.
I’ll leave that up for you to decide.