Muhammad sat in his cab on 161st Street a few blocks from Yankee Stadium. It was a crisp late spring afternoon and he had his windows down, heat turned on and the radio tuned to the Yankees game. He had embraced his new country, escaping the tyranny of Iran in 2005, and had made many new friends at the cab company. Sure, some people didn’t like him because he wore a turban and looked Arab, but most were accepting of him. Across the street he noticed a homeless lady with a paper coffee cup sitting on the sidewalk next to her. At least she looked homeless. You never can tell with people these days. She could live quite comfortably for all he knew. He hated dishonest people. He looked up the street and about a block away saw a kid weaving in and out of people on his skateboard. Damn kids.
Grace sat on the hard pavement in the sunshine trying to stay warm. Her brother, Tim, had died three years ago and she had been lost ever since. He had been her caretaker since they left their abusive home as teenagers. Grace had a history of mental illness which her brother blamed on their father. So ever since Tim died, she had been on her own. Homeless and without a friend in a city of millions. She had finished a cup of coffee she got from a shelter and set the cup on the sidewalk. She had learned that people would throw in loose change sometimes and she would get enough to buy her next cup of coffee. Or maybe something off the dollar menu at McDonalds. She heard something to her right and looked. Coming towards her was a kid she thought was about 18 years old. He was coming up fast. He slowed down as he approached her and fished in his pocket. The kid pulled out a dollar bill and shoved it into the paper cup and off he went in the other direction. She looked across the street at the cabbie and wondered if he had a bomb in his idling car. She didn’t trust people that wore those kinds of hats.
Nick was on his way home from work, his only mode of transportation that was faster than walking was his skateboard. He worked to help his mom pay the bills. His father had died in Iraq just a few years ago and his pension helped, but they still seemed like they needed more all the time. With no other family to speak of, it was just Nick and mom. Well, he did have an older uncle, Rick. His dad’s older brother. He was a Vietnam vet and homeless. Too proud to ask for help and couldn’t seem to hold down a job because he was always drunk. Every now and then Nick would get a call from a shelter saying his uncle was there if he wanted to see him. Sometimes he’d stop and visit and slip him a five when he wasn’t looking. He was a good man that couldn’t help himself and wouldn’t let anyone help him. So when Nick saw the homeless lady sitting on the sidewalk shivering he wanted to help her out. He only had a buck left over from lunch, but that was a buck more than she had. As he stopped and put the dollar in her cup he turned to look at the cabbie idling across the street. In an instant, hatred burned through his eyes. These were the people that killed his dad. But almost as fast, he supressed his anger. It wasn’t this guy’s fault. This particular guy hadn’t killed his dad. Let it go man. Let it go.