I sat doing a crossword puzzle in a nearby coffeehouse this afternoon. At one point, I was speaking with GoodThomas on the phone, when the waiter came by to ask me a question.
Aware that GT was at work, I said "I don't know how your day is going, but a man just stopped by to see if I wanted my slice of cake yet."
The line went dead right around then. Coincidence? Perhaps.
A little while later (after my cake if you must know), I went outside for a cigarette. As I stood there smoking, I noticed a group of five teenagers on the opposite corner, across the street from me. They were standing there passively, not going anywhere. I wondered briefly if perhaps they had taken my stereo. I wondered if they were on that corner to sell drugs.
And then I felt a little ashamed of myself for wondering such things.
A police car pulled up next to them, and two short, white cops who could have been twins burst forth. Two of the kids tried to walk blithely away, the picture of nonchalance, but they were quickly corralled to stand facing the wall of a building, hands atop their heads with the others. The building they were pressing up against housed a small store a few years ago. I don't know what happened to the store. I used to shop there.
They all seemed pretty casual about the whole thing, even the two cops who did not seek backup before undertaking to thoroughly frisk each of the kids standing there. From time to time one of them would turn around and say something that looked like a joke. It was unclear whether he was joking with his friends or with the police officers. After the initial wrangling of the kids against the wall, nobody seemed to be in much of a hurry.
The drugs, if there were even any drugs, were not in any of the obvious places. That much was clear by the fact that all were still being searched with nothing having been held up or tossed to the ground when I finished my cigarette and went back inside.
I was standing at a vantage that would have made a terrific photograph, and I was momentarily disappointed that I did not have my camera before I recalled the fact that people do not necessarily enjoy having their pictures taken while being frisked by police officers, hands on heads, legs apart, cheeks pressed against the wall of a building.
When I left the coffeehouse about fifteen minutes later, all seven of them were still there. The frisking was over, but each of the teens still stood against the wall, still held position. They seemed to be chatting idly, perhaps passing the time. A tiny flock of people had gathered around, and some of them seemed to be talking to either the police or the kids or both.
I walked home.