While recounting an old story to a new lady in my life, I stumbled upon a new realization.
The story was; when I was 20 and living near the intersection of Buena Ave and Broadway in Chicago, I was on my way home from class one evening and almost suffered an attack to my head.
It was 6ish or 7ish and it was dark out because it was winter. A well dressed black man was walking up the sidewalk from the opposite direction. He slowed up, looking at me, like he recognized me. I slowed too thinking I might try and recognize him in return. He kept looking at me, then said "I should fucking kill you right now!" He next swung what looked like a metal faucet piece. I ducked just in time, the whoosh was a loud one. Relief was a loud one too; it didn't connect with my skull. I ran away from him shouting every single curse word I could think of until I got into the foyer of my building and rushed up to my apartment.
When my breathing calmed, I called the police because I remember thinking, if I wind up dead I want them to have a suspect. Two police officers came, we filled out a police report. They told me to not take it personally, that there was a mental health facility nearby that was pretty come-and-go, some of their folks wandered around the neighborhood. I didn't so much take it personally, I didn't think that was the point.
Many months later I think I did see that guy again. I was waiting for a southbound Redline train, and I could see him across the tracks waiting for a northbound. I looked at him but he didn't look at me. I doubted that he remembered doing it, but I kept on looking, curious if there would be any sign of remembrance. Or guilt.
The new realization was this: at the time of the attempted assault, I was carrying home some food from the KFC around the corner. Something I had never considered before was that he could very well be a militant vegan sticking up for animal rights. Maybe it was personal. Maybe he was trying to permanently end my semi regular diet of meat. If this was it, then he would cease to be a bad guy in my book. I really like animals but don't have the courage to resist the barking of my taste buds. Perhaps I should listen the echoes of the past and their what-ifs. But I'm still just about to head off to the grocery store to pick up some meat to pan fry later this evening.