The Mailer Review/Volume 13, 2019/Cents

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« The Mailer ReviewVolume 13 Number 1 • 2019 »

On the Evening of September 10th 2001, having finished writing the first draft of a new article, I decided to take a walk to celebrate at some time around eight o' clock. I've always enjoyed taking walks, like the protagonist of Ray Bradbury's short story "The Pedestrian." And just the protagonist of "The Pedestrian" I discovered taking a walk in a suburb of Los Angles isn't always as easy as it should be.

Before I left the apartment, in a weird moment of psychic prescience, I said to myself, Maybe I shouldn’t take any money with me in case I get mugged. I was half-joking, as I’d never been mugged in my entire life and had no reason to think I would be tonight. Nonetheless, I found myself removing all the cash from my pocket and tossing it onto my bed. I remember thinking to myself, Oh, well . . . if I do get mugged all they’ll get is sixty-two cents in pennies. Why I had sixty-two pennies on me, I can’t quite remember.

Not far from my apartment building, on Arlington and Plaza Del Amo, I turned the corner and saw, about three blocks ahead of me, a trio of black teenagers huddled on the corner, talking to each other.. I thought to myself, Don't be racist. They're not going to mug you. Just as I thought that, a fourth black teenager emerged from an alleyway about one block ahead of me. He was tall and wearing an orange basketball jersey with the number 23 printed on it. The second he emerged from the alleyway, he glanced over his shoulder and looked at me. Then he kept walking. For some reason, I got the feeling he was looking for me specifically.

Jesus, don't be paranoid, I said to myself.

The fourth teenager walked over to the other three, as if he knew them.

There was no one else on the street. I suppose I could’ve crossed the street to avoid them, but I was intent on not giving in to some sort of irrational fear.