Based on a true story. In part.

Damn. I knew I wouldn’t get home until eight or even later. I got off of work early at quarter-till five in an effort to get home by six, but this god-damned weather has driven everyone to drive like complete morons and back up the entire public transit system to all hell. It’s taken me an hour just to get to my second bus stop, where I must sit and wait for yet another. I’m at 13th and Lincoln in downtown Denver, and it’s getting pretty damned dark, and I’ve got a cell phone, an old laptop (Pentium 120!), and a nice RIO MP3-CD player in my backpack. I feel like a sitting duck, just standing here waiting for the inevitable outcasts of society to emerge and harass me to no end. Usually they're peaceful and just want a cigarette or some change, but there's nothing less enjoyable than defusing a pissed-off drunk who sees me as a part of the reason why he's drunk and homeless. And perhaps I am. It's all connected, wouldn't you know?

It’s been about forty-five minutes now. An endless number of buses have rolled by, but mine has yet to come. A “B-Line” appears and the driver asks me where I’m headed. “Golden,” I say. “I can get you to Colfax,” he responds. Hmm, Colfax is only two blocks away, big whoop. For some reason I hoped he meant he could take me further West on Colfax, and I’m dying to get inside a warm bus, so I hop in. Of course he can only take me to Civic Center Station, a popular stomping ground for drunks and crack-heads. I run into a nice lady and a nice guy and we chat for awhile. Somehow, before this night began, I knew I’d run into a crack-head. I’ve never been harassed by one before, but before you know it, this toothless drunk white guy with a Sturgis T-shirt walks up and asks us if we “have any rocks.”

Of course we don’t. He quickly responds “of course white people don’t have rocks,” and his companion tells him to shut the fuck up and they scurry away. The irony of the situation is that in my bag I have about $100 worth of semi-precious minerals and gemstones, all of which are “rocks,” but of course, not the rocks he wants. I mention this to my companions and they get a chuckle out of the idea of selling the poor fool a nice, clear chunk of quartz for a pretty penny.

After awhile the nice guy decides to head out, and a couple of drunks walk over and insist on introducing themselves and shaking our hands playing the usual drunk-as-fuck mindgames that involve forcing us to be excessively nice to unstable drunk-bastards in the hopes of not pissing them off by saying the wrong thing. They’re actually pretty nice to us, and tell us “we’re all right,” and even offer us a swig of whiskey from a Sunny Delight bottle, which we graciously decline. All in all, I don’t feel threatened by them whatsoever, but I’m still unsettled by being completely helpless in the middle of downtown with a bag full of goods that could easily be traded for a good handful of "rocks."

Another hour passes, still no bus. A fifteen shows up and wouldn’t you know it, the crack-head who asked us if we “had rocks” before gets off and is yelling racial slurs at the bus driver. Apparently, he’s a crazy-as-fuck white supremacist, and just like the majority of his companions-in-ideology, he represents the worst possible specimen for someone who is supposedly “proud of his race.” Like I mentioned, he’s drunk and toothless, and not only that, he’s yelling racial slurs in the middle of downtown on Colfax and Broadway, just asking to be beaten, killed, or mugged, assuming he has anything to steal. At this point the nice lady and I have played off of each other for comic relief; if either of us had been alone, we’d be enraged by this situation of having waited ninety minutes in freezing weather, with the sensations of frostbite slowly setting into our toes. The crack-head continues to harangue the driver while he waits at a stop light. Evidently he is surfing buses to stay warm, and was asked to get off since he wasn’t going anywhere. The nice lady notices that there is a bus stop across the street that appears to have a bus that might be able to get us halfway home. Nonplussed by the angry rantings of the crack-addict, we begin to waltz over across the street, and he notices our absence. He follows us, yelling at me for abandoning him in his time of need. Evidently, he required the presence of other white people in order to harass a black bus driver without fear. He tells me I need to “stand up for my people,” and keeps calling me “white boy.” He follows us to the other bus stop, continually ranting that I’m afraid of him, that I’m a pussy-ass white boy, and that I need to stand up for my people.

This whole “white boy” slur brings back a feeling of anger that I hadn’t felt since middle school. At Martin Luther King Middle School, where I attended six through eighth grade, I was in the minority and was constantly labeled a “white boy” and pushed around and goaded into fights. I never actually engaged anybody in a fight, because I knew damned well what “getting jumped after school" meant. It meant that if you fought somebody, win or lose, all of their friends would beat the living tar out of you before you reached your bus home. Despite these unsatisfactory experiences, I emerged with my appreciation for people as a whole intact. When I hate people, I hate humanity, I hate myself. I don’t hate black people. I don’t hate white people. I hate intolerance. I hate hate. And this white-power crack-head motherfucker was challenging my ego. I was already bottling up the rage of having been stranded here for hours. I felt as if I should’ve just slept under my desk at work.

I knew that if this man touched me, it would be the end for him. I had never really gotten into a real fight in my life, and was almost dying for the opportunity. But he kept his distance, and I informed him that “I am just trying to find another bus, ok?”

**This is the point where reality and surreality blur. The events that transpire here did not actually occur…**

The crack-addict gets into the bus that’s been sitting at this other stop for several minutes now. Apparently, it’s going to leave in ten minutes. I’m waiting for a different bus which should be showing up in ten minutes. I’m glad that he decides to leave peaceably, and feel a sigh of relief. I knew this man wanted somebody to put him out of his misery, and it wasn’t going to be me.

So his bus eventually takes off, and yet another hour passes. It’s been three hours now, waiting for one god-damned bus that should “run” every twenty minutes. I’m infuriated. And wouldn’t you know it, his bus makes a full loop and comes back, and he gets kicked off yet again. He’s even angrier, but the bus driver is white this time, so he can’t blame her for being a member of a race of which he doesn’t believe has the right to exist. He sees me, and blames me. His anger uncontained, he begins harassing me about being a pansy-ass white boy, and lays a hand on me. I don’t remember if he punched me, slapped me, or just put his hand on my shoulder. Did he push me? It’s hard to say. Something happened, though. That much is for certain.

I can’t come up with anything less cliché than “I snapped” or “I lost it,” or “I exploded,” but that’s what I did. His life was no more from this point onward. My first punch landed on his stomach, almost “in his stomach,” causing him to belch and vomit profusely. He was too drunk to defend himself, but I was not interested in a fair fight. Every last bit of bottled-up frustration and rage and sadness that had plagued me from my very conception manifested itself into a furious flurry of blows to his face, stomach, and back. I punched, kicked, kneed, and spat. I grabbed him by his hair, and threw him face-down into the pavement. He was completely unconscious, but there was no stopping me. When he finally fell to the ground, I shattered his skull with the heel of my dress shoes, my beautiful black dress Payless shoes that probably made people think I was a “yuppie.” I could see his brains and cerebral fluids emerging from his now cloven skull, and was instantly nauseous. I went to puke, but could only dry-heave, my stomach completely empty. The horrific taste of bile filled my entire being. I could taste it, smell it, feel it, see it, and touch it. It was the taste of his downfall more than anything else.

When he was finished, I felt the faintest glimpse of sorrow, which quickly transformed into something I've never felt before. I knew he wanted to be killed. I had just indulged his last wish. He didn’t really want “rocks,” he wanted an escape. Freedom. He was most likely homeless, and was stuck in a racist mindset that plagued him until the end. He insisted that “white people don’t sell crack,” but hoped that we did, so that he could feel dependent on his “brothers” rather than his “enemies.” I indulged him, and I felt terrible and relieved at the same time. I was wearing dark blue pants, and the blood barely showed. Those around me were completely awestruck, but did nothing. When the bus finally came, we all boarded quietly and not a single thing was ever said of the incident ever again.

Incidentally, I saw the nice lady again the next day, on my ride to work. She did not acknowledge my existence, but I could at least thank her in my own mind for not having called the cops on me. His death never even made it to the obituaries or the news. His existence or lack thereof was never acknowledged by anybody ever again, if it ever had been previously. I had killed a dead man, and from that point on I could never look at myself the same way again. It wasn’t really guilt, or sadness, or depression, or sorrow, or anything you could conveniently attach a label to. I had taken a life that had already been lost, and couldn’t put my finger on how this would change my life from this point forward.

I tend to believe in karma to a certain extent, and felt that from here on out I would be possessed with a burden of guilt that would plague me for the rest of my life. But this did not happen. Instead, I was relieved. All of that pent-up sadness and anger died with that man, and though I'd never be the same person again after having taken a life, it seemed as if I'd inverted his death into something positive for myself. So whatever guilt I had from here on out was the guilt of not feeling guilty enough. Go figure.

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