➤ COCK FIGHT, from p.26
their dentist in the mouth?
I tried pushing him away with
my feet, but I was afraid of crushing
the groceries. With both arms I
pushed him out the door. He stumbled
backwards, pulling with him
half of the bag’s contents, which
fell onto the street.
I slammed the door closed. The
adrenaline rush was palpable: my
body was shaking and my heart
The driver uttered his fi rst word.
“Yeah, I know.” I was out of
breath. I considered giving the
cabbie my address and making a
clean break for it, but it was now
a fi ght-or-fl ight situation. I knew
what I needed to do.
“Driver, I gotta go out there and
get my food. Cover me.” I opened
the door and stepped out of the
Packages of food were scattered
on the street like stars in a constellation.
Jake stood back from the
mess, on the sidewalk and next to
his girlfriend, who was now silent.
I looked to assess whether he had
calmed down or was gearing up for
a second round. Alternating glances
between the destruction and the
vandal that created it, I shook my
head. I squatted down to retrieve
bags of frozen broccoli and berries,
shoveling them onto the splayed
“That’ll teach you a lesson the
next time you try that,” he said,
though his words of victory belied
what sounded like an attempt to
alleviate his guilt.
He was slight of build, with wavy
black hair and a manicured beard.
His girlfriend, a pretty woman with
long and straight dark hair, looked
Southeast Asian. Both were well
dressed. No one would take his appearance
for that of a maniac.
“You’re a fucking asshole, Jake!”
I said in my best baritone voice,
wondering whether to take off my
parka and fl ex.
His silence suggested agreement.
Though his elegant girlfriend stood
next to him, she looked embarrassed.
I doubted he’d get laid later
that night. Defending a woman’s
honor may be considered valiant,
but getting into a battle with someone
over a taxi is hardly suitable
behavior for any knight in shining
I bent down to collect the rest
of the items, including a carton
of almond milk that had made its
way under the taxi. Other than a
few nicks and bruises, none of the
packaging seemed seriously damaged.
No broken glass, no open
wounds, and nothing appeared to
be leaking. I was glad I hadn’t purchased
I wrapped the makeshift bag
around my groceries to form a
bundle, climbed back into the taxi,
and shut the door.
“That was crazy!” the driver said
as I concentrated on taking slow,
deliberate breaths. My sympathetic
witness tempered my feelings, adding
credence to what I myself might
later have diffi culty believing. That
the reaction came from a New York
City taxi driver — some known to
have delivered babies! — was even
more consoling. He confessed this
had been a fi rst for him.
“I’m still shaking,” I said.
As we got closer to my building, I
smelled food. Freshly cooked food.
But I didn’t remember buying any.
“Sir, by any chance are you eating
anything up there?”
“No. I ate a while ago. You’re my
“Oh, so you saved the best for
Then I remembered the lasagna I
took from the party. Had they heated
it up for me? I decided to stop
thinking about it as I ripped open
a protein bar. I’d be home soon. I
was just glad to be going home.
“You did the right thing,” he assured
me. “If you got into a real
fi ght, the cops would have come,
and you’d have a bigger problem on
“Thanks for saying that.”
I knew he was right, but I had
a nagging feeling that I should
have done something that would
REUTERS/ LUCAS JACKSON
have put mein the position to say,
“That’ll teach you not to mess with
me.” Though I have big muscles,
I’m no ninja.
When I got home and started
unloading my groceries, I examined
each item. Other than the
banged-up carton of almond milk,
everything seemed to be intact.
But what was that smell?
Bundled up inside the makeshift
bag was a smaller paper bag.
I didn’t recall carrying such a bag,
nor did I remember picking it up.
But I’d been under duress when recovering
my groceries. It wouldn’t
have surprised me if I had picked
up discarded cigarette butts lying
on the street.
Inside the bag was a take-out
box containing the source of the
mystery smell: half a chicken on
the bone. It wasn’t cut into pieces
at the joints — American style —
but hacked with a cleaver into four
segments. There were grill marks
seared onto its skin. The chicken
lay on a huge bed of fresh baby
greens with wedges of lemon and
thin slices of red onion.
Then it hit me: The food had
belonged to the millennial couple.
Jake must have dropped it onto the
street before he broke into my cab
to take my food.
It looked and smelled delicious.
It tasted even better.
Dean Wrzeszcz, a contributor and
former copy editor at Gay City News,
passed away from complications of
COVID-19 on April 3. An exacting
craftsman, he was fi ne-tuning this
essay — already primed for publication
— at the time of his death.
Gay City News thanks Dean’s sister,
Victoria Wrzeszcz, for granting
permission to publish the piece,
and Dean’s friend Court Stroud for
facilitating its publication.
GayCityNews.com | May 7 - May 20, 2020 27