It was another summer day in Seattle in 1990 on Capital Hill. I needed nails. I made my way to a small co-op a few blocks away on 15th.

I looked like I belonged on the Hill. Young, bald, muscled, wearing black boots, overalls with no shirt, a surplus green beret pulled tight, and shades with mirror lenses. Maybe punk, maybe gay, maybe a skinhead… Hard for anyone to tell. All fitting on the hill.

Half way to the store I see a mixed couple at a bus stop ahead of me.

He, a black man, sees me coming and looks agitated. He pulls a folding knife and takes two mock swipes at a nearby post. A clear warning. I walk by, our eyes locked. No words exchanged.

In the hardware store I browse around as the only other patron — a slender man younger than me — stares. He eventually approaches. “Here,” he says, handing me a paperback copy of ‘The Communist Manifesto’, “I think you need this.” He quickly turns and leaves the shop. I’d been served.


June 23, 2017