I’m texting her back to tell her that I think the interview went well, but who really knows with these things. She immediately responds asking if I think I got the job. If it went that well. I think it did, but I can’t say that. That would jinx it. I’m allowed to be so sure that I believe, but it must remain deep and hidden in here. I can’t put it out into the universe. That’s how you invite the jinx. I need this job. So, I tell her that it’s out of my hands and we’ll see in a week. She asks again if I think it went that well and adds she’s sure I got it. I can’t do this right now.
I miss my street because I’m texting and thinking about everything I said during the interview that could have come off as stupid. I should have had more questions for him. I should have asked about the company culture. Idiot, idiot. I turn around and walk back a block towards St. Mark’s. Now I’m embarrassed that I’m backtracking in New York City. That’s tourist shit. Someone on this block is judging me. They probably think I’m looking at Google Maps on my phone. I want to yell that I’m actually texting with my girlfriend, a successful painter. She was in a group show.
I’m walking up to the Cube and I hear skateboards and honking horns coming up from behind me. A group of about a dozen skaters are coming up from Broadway towards the intersection. They’re weaving between cars, jamming them up. I don’t want to stop and stare, giving them what they want. I walk more slowly, watching them in my peripheral vision while others stop completely to film with their phones. One older woman is filming the skateboarders with an iPad. A deep annoyance is flooding my brain. These people have places to be. Some are trying to get to work, I’m sure. These kids don’t care. They think they’re cool. We’re all at the mercy of a bunch of idiots. Grow up. You’ll be in the backseat of one of those honking taxis one day.
It’s a pack of teenage boys. I’m drawn to one of them. He’s at the back and his face is telling a story. He’s afraid and he doesn’t want to be doing this. The details start filling in the more I watch him. His features are sensitive. His form is unsteady. His skin has become milk from fear. The boy is me. I see that now. I want to take him into my arms and whisper in his ear that I have come from the future and it ends up ok. He passes by me and his eyes meet mine.
Now, I see the other boy. I can read him, too. I can always read the ones like him. He’s taunting young me, slapping at him and calling him a pussy. He’s telling him to keep up with the group and he’s making everyone else look bad. I’m reading his lips even after I can no longer see them. The milk skinned boy is losing his balance. He’s panicking. The cars aren’t stopping.
I can’t explain it, I can only feel it. There’s that psalm about hating with a perfect hatred. I look at the kid still yelling at the panicking boy with a perfect hatred. Every single cell is burning. I’m thinking it, which is okay, but I lose myself and say the words out loud. I say them and it feels good and as soon as I finish saying the words a wheel comes off the kid’s board. His insults become a clipped scream as he tumbles off his skateboard and disappears under the wheels of a bus.
The woman filming with her iPad says oh god over and over. The people who aren’t yelling are running over to the bus. I walk quickly past the scene, allowing myself one glimpse at the kid under the wheels. The nervous boy sits down on the curb and vomits while the skaters at the front of the group make their way back yelling the kid’s name.
I break into a run. Maybe they think I’m going for help. I am not going for help. That kid has a family. The police will call his mother. She’ll dread this date on the calendar for the rest of her life. There will be a void. An unnatural horror.
I get to the bar I always go to and sit down. I’m sweating and I’m trying not to cry. The bartender comes over to me with a smile that quickly fades when he asks me what’s wrong. I instinctively shove my hand into my inner jacket pocket and finger my rosary.
I’ve done a terrible thing. I have done an unspeakably terrible thing.
My phone vibrates in my pocket. It’s another text from my girlfriend that says she’s positive I got the job because I always get what I set my mind to.