Flew into Boston last night for a conference. Broken-hearted city. Stayed at a place in Cambridge I got off the Internet. Got to sleep late. Woke up late.
No coffee. Went out in search of same. Nothing open. A car here, a car there. A lot of birds though, chirping hellishly loud. A helicopter--helicopters, more than one--flutter above. Even the 7-11 is closed. Along Mass Ave. a TV reporter comes rushing at me trailing a cameraman.
"I am from Italy TV. You know Italy? Do you ever imagine this happens in your neighborhood?"
"All this, in your city."
I continue on my way down the sidewalk. "I'm from Oakland." I decide to walk in circles until on a side street I finally find a place, door wide open door, though it's dark inside like they're saving power for later. A man stands behind the counter cooking for nobody.
I look for a pot on a hot plate and when I can't spot one I really worrying about what comes next . Unthinkable. "You got coffee to go?"
The man puts his spatula down on the grill back there, comes forward, and reaches behind a wall for a pot full of coffee. "Yes."
I love this man. "What's your name?"
I gestured out the door. "Where is everyone?"
"City locked down."
"Who locked it down?"
He fishes a Styrofoam cup off a pile by a cigar box. "You heard it last night right?"
"Sirens and helicopters and guns." He place the cup in my hand. "They got one of theirs and they got one of ours."
"Thanks." I reach into my pocket and pull out a five and put a five in his hand. "How much?"
"One hundred dollars." Jamal laughs loud at his own joke as he takes my money. "Price back home, days like this."
He doesn't seem like he's from the South. "What's it like there?"
"When search for one terrorist, we send out two. Three at most." He poured the coffe into the cup. "Here, with one terrorist, everyone up and at it."
"How much really?"
"A dollar eighty-five." He pulls out a handfull of 5s and 10s from the cigar box, shrugs his shoulders. "No change. Come back when my wife, she's here."
"She's in charge of the money?"
He laughs again. "What you think?!"
"Have a nice day."
I leave and then walk in more circles until I finally find the place I'm staying and I sit down and I drink my coffee and I find out what is happening.