We were taking a walk in our neighborhood a few days ago, down a lonesome green street of the upper northwest, when a car full of men slowed down to a stop in front of us. The man behind the wheel looked at us. Babbo looked at him. Then the man started the car again and left.
“In case you were wondering,” Babbo said. “That’s what looters look like.”
“Should we keep walking?” I asked, feeling spooked.
“Yes,” he said. “Let’s keep moving.”
We turned down another street, this one with dog walkers and stroller pushers and joggers. Then a cop car came roaring down the street, in pursuit of something, or someone.
Later I asked Babbo what he was thinking when he looked at the man in the car, the driver with the men in the passenger seats with their hands on the door handles.
“I was thinking, ‘Get the fuck out of my way motherfucker,’” Babbo said.
“And what was the driver thinking?” I asked.
“ ‘Ok,’” Babbo said. “He thought, ‘ok.’”
I couldn’t wait for the silence before I broke in, my suburban roots showing.
“You know, this is why people don’t live in the cities in America,” I told him.”You always ask, why don’t people live in the city? This is why.”
“Doesn’t matter,” he said. “It could happen there. It could happen anywhere. It could happen at a–“. Babbo paused, summoning forth the most suburban image in his mind. “A shopping mall.”
“I guess so,” I said.
“But it might be more difficult,” he acknowledged.
“What were his eyes saying when he stopped the car and looked at us?” I asked. “Like why did he even stop?”
“He was thinking, ‘I want what you have.'”
“Really?” I asked.
“He would like to have this life, living in this neighborhood, taking this walk with his family. Angry he doesn’t. When he stopped and looked at us, he was thinking, I want to take that from you.”
“But he didn’t,” I said.
“No,” Babbo said. “He didn’t.”