This could only happen to me.
When I can’t sleep, which is often, I stumble out to the all night Duane Reade around the corner. It’s empty at 3 a.m. except for a handful of sleepy employees, so one can cruise the aisles without being accosted by anyone named Carmelita in makeup and creams.
As I come in, a young cashier all of 20, is behind the counter with blood streaming down her face. She’s Islamic, her pretty head wrapped up like a pretty package, with the exception of her hands and face from the eyes down, not a shred of skin showing.
Naturally I approach her.
“What happened?” I say, placing my hand on her arm. “A man, he came in to buy cigarettes and when I give him his change, screams ISIS, then punched me in my nose.”
I say, we need to call the police. She panics. “No, no, please, they’ll blame me and I’ll lose my job.”
Meanwhile, blood is shooting like a geyser. I find the manager upstairs sleeping behind the pharmacy. After yelling at him for leaving her alone, I grab cotton and Witch-hazel flying downstairs like Clara Barton at the Battle of Antietam. Another woman had come in, in the interim, and was comforting her. After cleaning her up, her lazy co-worker said she could go home, but she refuses.
Let me say, I was so ashamed of humanity at that moment. That someone could do such a thing to this young, innocent woman just because she chooses not to hide her faith.
My heart aches at this sad, prevalent, fucked-up truth.
I then go to the all night coffee shop to bring back tea. The other woman, a lovely Latino lady, accompanies me, who starts to cry.
“What’s happened to us,” she said, “how can anyone be that cruel?”