Dance Hall Days
Michael turned right and the car headed down the long hill. Up ahead in the distance he saw a small group of boys walking along on the side of the road. In the middle of the pack was a bare-chested youth who was swinging his shirt around over his head and walking backwards. His eyes were locked on Michael’s approaching car and as he drew nearer he saw the boy’s mouth moving and the others pivoting their head to watch him drive by as well. The boy beat his chest and began yelling at the car. At the driver.
Michael’s eyes met the kid’s and although he’d never seen him before he wondered who the boy saw sitting there behind the wheel.
A few seconds later Michael was applying the brakes as the road came to a one-lane bridge. The other side of the road had the right of way so Michael fidgeted as he waited for traffic to die down and allow him to cross.
He looked in the rear view mirror and saw the boys walking towards him. The shirtless boy was jogging.
Michael wasn’t sure what he felt. It wasn’t fear. He wasn’t a small man and he had been in his share of altercations so he was confident if push came to shove he could push the shove right out of this punk.
But still … there was something.
He watched the boy draw closer.
He glanced at the cars lined up on the other side of the bridge.
He wondered what was going through this young man’s mind. What he hoped to gain. Who he was chasing. Who was it that he was angry at?
Was he even angry or was this just the chemicals of youth sloshing when they should have been calm?
He could hear him now. Calling to him. He could hear the Greek chorus behind him egging their gladiator onward.
He unlocked the doors. The sound made him jump but he certainly wasn’t going to be difficult if the young man had spent such energy depositing himself in this situation and had his heart set on confrontation. A little bit of the lion reared its head in Michael.
He decided to let the traffic decide this.
He started to search through radio stations for the appropriate soundtrack to the coming encounter. He turned up the volume and tried to find the musical equivalent of a porcupine’s spines. So absorbed was he in this he missed an opportunity to pass quickly over the bridge.
The boy was running now. So close it seemed that he would be arriving at any moment.
Michael looked up again and found the other side of the bridge empty.
The boy’s hand was almost on the door handle.
Michael pushed down on the gas and the car accelerated and passed over the bridge and continued down the road.
He didn’t look back.
He wasn’t surprised.
Nobody had ever gotten their ass kicked to Wang Chung.