Friday, March 26, 2010

Thug Love

I'm sitting in the Albuquerque Main Library, directly across from a man who is reading, then sniffling as though crying, then kissing the pages of his book fervently. I guessed immediately that it wasn't a Where's Waldo collection. Its black covers, tiny text, and abundance of hair's-breadth pages told me it was the Bible.

I only realized this as I sat down, and now it's a bit awkward because I want to stare, to try to understand, but there is something sacred happening here, something that I would diminish to mere spectacle by witnessing.

He is a young man, maybe about my age, hispanic with the tattoos to prove he's had a hard life. I noticed one on his face, and his arms and neck contain the kind of writing endemic to gang life.

When I hear him sniffle, it's a sign he is about to dip his head into the filo-dough pages of his Biblia and kiss what I imagine to be every mention of his Lord's name. I take these opportunities to glimpse him again. Watching is only watching if he sees it happening, and I can't turn away from this passion. It's the stuff usually reserved for lovers resisting the inevitable break-up.

He doesn't look physically strong. This isn't one of the gangsters you see parading around the prison yard in crime movies, intimidating our lithe protagonist, who's only there undercover, anyway. He might be the protagonist. Only he's not undercover, and heroes don't have tattoos like this. He wants to be a hero, though. Villains don't tearfully kiss the Lord's name in public libraries.

Our hero just left. He sniffled one final time, deeply, in the manner of a recovery, zipped up something - a bag or a sweater maybe, and walked into the stacks, possibly to return the Holy Book to the piles of other things he does not own.

No comments: