The two swaggering thugs and their pale imitator had quit the Taco Bell just ahead of us, poster children for a dysgenic plague, trash strewn about, affectations of menace worn like plastic flowers in an ugly girl's hair—the raiders and their traitor scout...
Behind them left the single mother and her mountainously fat adult son, trying sincerely to be the best woman a man can be, cleaning up his spilled trash as his mother supervises.
The malformed giants gone, I step forward to hold the door for Miss Lili and saw a soft-faced boy entering—the customary scowl of his kind absent—a milk chocolate boy of 12, with big watery eyes behind distortingly thick glasses, dressed in slacks and button shirt on MLK Day. As he saw me reaching for the door he broke out of whatever reverie occupied his dreaming eye, shook himself visibly and darted to the door as if my opening it for lack of him holding it would bring shame upon him and his.
As he held the door and I made eye contact to thank him, he flinched with his eyelids, the flinch of an oft-beaten boy that never grew tough from it. I've looked into such eyes many times in gyms and on buses—seen it too many times not to know what it is. I know deep down that countless whoopings are behind this courtesy and we thank him.
Ever since Monday this kid's eyes have bothered me. To be a nerd in his world of vicious giantesses and 300-pound felonious toddlers must be a fate to rival my worst day...
The ability to read a face like this, born of coaching hundreds of boys and men, has served as a useful tool in the past.
Today it simply tires the mind's eye.