The Man in the Black Suit: Potentially Dangerous Citizens
by Adam Engel
May 16, 2004

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The Man  in the Black Suit claimed to be an  IMPORTANT MAN,  chairman of the board of DataCo Inc. Research  the credit of the people; research backgrounds of license applicants; research lives of potentially dangerous "citizens."  Database, database, government monkey work.

Bright shining corporata (glamorous magazine covers and oh what packaging) all brands all flavors in the shinkety-shank paint-peeling convenience store replete with stuff.

    “Yo, how much?”
    “How much what?”

    “This and this.”

    “Sixty cents. Two dollar for four.”

    “You’re shitting me. Sixty cents for penny candy?”

    “Two dollars for four. Great deal. Bargain.”

    “Bullshit. Gimme five.”

The Kid put two bucks on the counter. Took five splendidly wrapped rectangles of chocolaty goodness.

    “No. Four. Two dollar for four.”

The moment I embraced the Big Fear I was free. I mean the nightmare. In its totality. This cancerous exhausted …

“Throw in the chips then.  I give you two dollars, you throw in the chips.”

“No. No chip. Four for two dollars. No chip. Separate.”

I was born American I just can’t stand invincible anymore invincible everywhere and always.  “Empire.”  Too much to be naked I was born and still  have only myself to bare.  Another flower blooming in a landfill. The old women too, with their aggression.  The lady in the drugstore Tuesday. Barreling through the line. Survival instinct? Old folks have to be a pain in the ass to get what they need?  Doesn’t it all relate to survival? Or maybe they’re just sick and tired of no one listening. They know you’re thinking: living  that old, not natural that’s why all the drugs. What is natural? To be eaten, at the end, by wolves?

    “C’mon man. I’m givin’ you the two dollars. Work with me here. Throw in the chips.”

    “Work. I work, I work. You no work.”

    The Kid must have been  twelve years old. The Convenience store guy looked around seventy.

    “Fuck you, man. Here’s your two  dollars. I’m taking the chips.”

    “What fuck you? You fuck me? I fuck you.”

Leakage from umbilical to ordure oozing into rubber then the gurney then the casket sealed off from worms and creepy-crawlers and all that is “natural.”   Very, very end. Leakage. Umbilical. Arresting. One by one we all fall down.  So enjoy that Sloppy Joe, Joe. In Jericho I knew pain fear joy love panic.  Before the walls came tumbling down.

    “Get out you. Get fuck out my place.”

    “Fuck you, grandpa. I give you the money. I’m taking the chips and we’re cool.”

    “You get out my place. No chip.”

    “Fuck you. Fuck you.”

Oh beautiful, spacious. Regard  myself in my regard.  I once worked retail sales. Men’s Department. Gotta wear a new suit every day, look sharp. I thought, “maybe get into computers and accessories downstairs. That’s where all the action is. Downstairs, in computers, office equipment and appliances. One day they will build a better mouse pad. ”

Timing. It was all bad timing. School must have let out or something because suddenly the place was packed with kids. A crowd. A mob. Half screamed at The Kid and the Store-Keeper to finish their damn stand-off and let ‘em buy their soda or ice-cream or whatever; but the others, some of them older than The Kid and worse, some of them girls, simply by being there created heat and friction. The Kid had to put on some kind of show or whatever  and the Old Man’s son or some kind of relative came out from the back where he was checking stock and who knows what makes people snap, what each individual considers “unbearable” pressure? You know, unbearable to one guy is a cakewalk to another but no one, not even the guy who came out from the back, not even the Old Man, not even, especially not even The Kid, expected to hear what sounded like a huge explosion, but was really nothing cause the gun was just a palm sized semi-automatic, a .22 no bigger than an MP3 player.  But the small space, enclosed, crowded, and that awful sound like an animal busting free from a trunk. Not once. Three times. Each slug drilled molten “uhnn’s!”  of breath-taking shock into the boy’s chest but did not exit out the back like you’d expect. It was a tiny gun, but powerful enough to lift The Kid off the floor an inch and slam him back  into a ziggurat of canned corn which crashed upon him like the Philistine's arena. He writhed and kicked as if crushed under a great foot then stopped still and the blood awful blood gushed geyser-like and ceiling-ward then trickled and ebbed to a faint squirt, and we all knew what that meant especially the TV watchers among us, especially the Old Man, who must have seen god knows what every day in “his country” somewhere in the blasted, burned out tenements of Araby. The Old Man wept and wailed not for the kid I don’t think but for himself: that he left the Sun under which he’d sweated three score and ten  to  join his  successful relatives in America, where they owned homes and businesses, to end his life among family and property, but instead found prison, tabloids, isolation, murderers row.

By then those who were no longer frozen in place screaming were running home to their parents, school administrators, the police, somewhere kids must run after this kind of event but what did I do, I, a twenty-seven-year old man who should have been in an office or at least upstairs in my apartment doing the work I’d been paid for weeks in advance?  What could anyone do? I bought my beer at the Korean Grocer across the street.

Maybe one day they will, whoever “they” are, the infamous “they” who are responsible for everything good or bad in life, maybe they will build a better mouse-pad.

Cop cars. Ambulance. Stretcher. The Kid covered with a sheet, the Old Man talking frantic, elegiac Farsi – a threnody of unbearable beauty lost forever to the noise and fumes of traffic.  The Kid must have lived nearby: his mother screaming down the street who told her the news?

I thought to myself would I REALLY want to be the am that I am because truly, this is all I am and you never know who you’ll wake up to find yourself tomorrow (as the old man could tell you and the kid would tell you if he could).

The METRO NEWS that evening assured us there were no perpetrators, only victims in this American Tragedy,  this epic miscommunication.

Ansel Moore, the twelve year old kid,  had been an honors student and a young man of leadership potential who’d adapted to the rigors of middle-school life and got along well with his peers in addition to starring as a pitcher for his school baseball team and performing as an outstanding runner for the track team. “He was just a good boy, a great kid, everyone loved him,” recalled a neighbor.  On the other side of the gun was Abram Mizrahi, who came to this country at age seventy speaking no English but wanting to be among family in his final years. He worked as a sandwich maker, then a cashier in his younger brother’s discount candy store/delicatessen. “Such a sweet old man, everyone loved him,” said one of his seven grieving nephews. Police are investigating the incident. Immigration officials are looking into the matter of the Old Man's citizenship.

The deli was closed for the week-end so I stuck with the Korean Grocer across the street for all my coffee, beer and tobacco needs. 

Adam Engel has suffered business suits, lawsuits, hirsutes and hot pursuits,  but never a Black Suit. One day he hopes to write the Great American Novelini. Anyone interested in purchasing one medium-sized black suit please contact: bartleby.samsa@verizon.net. Will accept best offer. (c) 2004 Adam Engel.

Other Articles by Adam Engel

* Man in the Black Suit: An Introduction
* Natural Selection
* Revolution and Reform: An Interview with Lenni Brenner
* What?
* What's Left

* I, Clitoris
* Abraham & Sons, LLP
* Enough is Too Much
* Crumblecake and Fish
* Black is Indeed Beautiful: An Interview with Ernest Crichlow
* Pretty Damned Evil: An Interview with Edward S. Herman

* Hall of Hoaxes
* Black and White is Read All Over: An Interview with Tim Wise
* Born Again Republican
* Jew and Me
* The System Works

A Washington Lefty in King George's Court: A Conversation with Sam Smith
* Raising JonBenet: A Review of Cowboy's Sweetheart by Walter Davis Plus an Interview

* What It Is

* I Hope My Corpse Gives You The Plague

* Something Killer

* MAN Talk

* U.S. Troops Outta Times Square

* Parable of the Lobbyist

* The Fat MAN in Little Boy

* Talk Dirty Scary Monsters

* Gravity’s End Zone
* Towers of Babel, Woodstock and the Word
* Uncle Sam is YOU
* Flag in the Rain
* We Possessed
* American Bulk (SPAM and Ideal)
* Video Judas Video
* Wal-Mart & Peace