I’ve always prided myself on being a good observer. It’s the lot of any writer or storyteller. You pay more attention to the world around than the average person. It’s also connected to the low-grade paranoia I’ve been afflicted with my whole life. It’s probably an ego thing, but my mistrust of random people stems from the fact I think that they are all plotting against me. As I look around at the people in my immediate vicinity I’m putting together the witness report for when I have to explain to the police about the guy that tried to kill me. All of this to say that I’m not usually surprised by people in my vicinity so when I was walking home last night and I heard a woman screaming, I was fairly stunned.
I was walking west on Venice Blvd. towards Overland Avenue and she was running across the street. She was short and round, her hair pulled back in a ponytail. It was brown, wavy, a curl had fallen loose. She was wearing a black hoodie and jeans. A man was chasing her. At first I couldn’t tell what was going on. I had my headphones in, and music was blaring, plus the street noise. My initial thought was that her scream was a playful squeal between friends. But the man chasing her had an aggressive demeanor. He was short and stocky, with just a t-shirt even though it was sub fifty-five degrees (LA freezing).
They passed right in front of me. She had darted across traffic on Venice, jumped in front of a stopped bus, and continued to the gas station on corner. As the man, reached out for her just a few feet behind her, I could feel the rush of air as he passed in front of me. What do I do? I thought. There were plenty of people around. Is this my problem? I’ve never been in a fight, so not sure stepping in would do anything beyond getting me hurt. But this was a man chasing a woman. That’s not right. I pulled off my headphones because I was at least going to verbally intervene. At that’s when I heard the man shout, “you think you can grab my wallet? Try it again.”
Suddenly, the scene shifted. Was this a woman trying to escape a man who was chasing her? Or was this a thief trying to escape being caught from a failed pickpocket attempt? There were about half a dozen other people around, getting off the bus, standing on the corner, getting gas. The woman was safe now and the man turned around and started walking away. I let it go. As I continued on, I kept the woman in my eye line.
As I crossed the street she moved to the edge of the gas station and kept her eye in the direction of the man. No one else approached her. She pulled out a phone and was began talking to the person on the other end. If this was a crime, I really don’t know who was victim and who was perpetrator.
The whole thing lasted about two minutes and was really of no consequence, but even now a day later I still feel the surge of the scene unfolding. Maybe it’s because I’ve been immersed in a true-crime rabbit hole and I feel like there’s a murderer lurking around every corner. I don’t know. But as most people move around, their face buried in their phone, the real world is merely a blur whizzing by. It makes it easier for someone to grab a wallet. Or chase someone down.
I don’t know my point in all of this. I don’t know which is better. Maybe that text message is important. The faces in my head of this non-situation certainly aren’t. All I know is I could still pick either one of them out of lineup.