Tuesday night was like one of those yo-yos on retractable elastic string that were popular when I was in elementary school in the early 1980s. I loved that thing. The Glo-Ball was a hard, clear, plastic ball with a neon orange and green plastic shape inside obscuring the mechanism within that doled out and wound in the elastic string. Basically, they were yo-yos for the yo-yo impaired, and they also glowed in the dark, solving the long-suffered problems encountered when one needed to yo-yo safely with the lights off.
I remember that at one moment I would be in perfect control, managing to release and catch the ball, affecting the look of a seasoned yo-yoer with a normal yo-yo; the next moment would find the ball hurtling wildly in unreasonable horizontal and diagonal archs on its elastic string, ricocheting off walls and furniture only to retract and collide with my body, which was doing its own dance of self-preservation. Those were difficult days, the Glo-Ball days.
By the previous two paragraphs, I mean to illustrate that Tuesday night felt wild and unpredictable. Between the Fiery One and I, we have experienced more than the necessary amount of work-related stress lately, so we were excited to go and pick up the mystery package at the postal outlet on the way to have supper out. The mystery package we picked up at the postal outlet was full of books! from Ladyloo! that I could not bear to part with, so we decided to take them to the restaurant with us. Who doesn't want to go out for supper with a Henry Miller trilogy?
The weather was incredibly warm for a mid-November evening in Saskatchewan. We did not even have to wear gloves, so we were walking along just past our apartment building on our way back from picking up the package, fingers interlaced. I am not sure what we were talking about, but I remember we were talking softly to each other, giggling at each other's jokes.
I was leaning in toward the Fiery One on my right side, because it feels so good to be near him, when I was suddenly jostled a bit by a cyclist who was passing us on my left between me and the drugstore on the corner.
I felt a tug on my handbag, which I had looped over my shoulder. I instinctively tried to get a better hold on it, thinking that it was merely sliding from my shoulder, but the next thing I knew I was watching it slide down my arm. My animation suspended during that moment in which I was both confused as to why my purse was sliding all the way down my arm and aware that the cyclist was pulling my handbag from me. Both thoughts hung together in my mind, weights of equal measure, until the handle of my purse hit my hand, but it was too late. I tried grabbing on, but it slipped easily away from me.
Instantly, as though the touch on my hand threw time into sharp focus, everything was moving so fast. The cyclist was peddling away with my handbag twirling out from his side where he still held his arm perpendicular to the pavement. We started running.
FUCK YOU, YOU FUCKING FUCKERRRRRR! rolled out of my chest in a hoarse yet magnificent boom. Even in my state of surprise, I was impressed with this new sound I could make, so I made it again. FUCKING BASTARD! FUCK YOU! I FUCKING HATE YOU!
To me, my voice was a cannon. Boom boom boom. I wanted my words to hit him bodily, I wanted him to be surprised at my strength even as I fell further and further behind, my legs no match for his bicycle. The Fiery One continued to chase him for another block until he turned and disappeared into a network of alleys and apartment buildings.
I had stopped running in the middle of the intersection and stood there shivering with my hands over my face. I didn't know what to do. I felt like something else should happen, that he should loop back or I should have a weapon or a car should hit him or that this should be a vivid fantasy in mind like every other day. None of this happened, of course. The cyclist was just gone, and the street was quiet.
It was all so fast that I remember it in snapshots. There is the Fiery One, little in the distance with his red scarf waving. There is the flash of reflector on a bike's wheel. There is the stranger handing me the cell phone with the confusing buttons.
After that was all the follow-up stuff. A lady stopped beside me in her car and let me use her cell phone to call the cops. The Fiery One and I waited for the police at the drug store on the corner, where I realized that I had been clutching my three Henry Miller books so tightly that my arms did not want to straighten and ached when they did. The cop who showed up came with us around the corner to our apartment, and we wrote out our statements while the cat played around the guy's feet. After that, we gave up on good food and opted for pints of beer and mediocre food, because getting mugged makes you reprioritize like that.
During all of that I was most aware of a burning sensation in my hands and kept returning with fascination to the memory of myself sitting on the sofa, convulsing subtly with a parkinsonian shudder while I ate a banana.
And now it is Thursday evening, and I am typing this in our living room. I am more scared today than I was when it happened. The thief took my purse and my wallet and my keys, and it was before 7:00 pm on a weeknight outside an open business on a travelled street when I was with my husband.
Now there are no rules to follow. Was it late? No, it was early. Was it dark? Just barely. Were you alone? No, I was with my husband.
The Fiery One is not yet home from work, and since the bathroom is in the dark back half of the apartment, I stay in here, stuffing my hand into my crotch and dancing on my chair. The one guy on the bicycle blossoms into a they, and I wonder if someone is watching the apartment, if they know when I come home at night.
I am scared to run down to the store on the corner for a tin of soup. I am scared to walk to my bus stop in the morning, and so I caught the later one today when the streets were busier. I was late for work. I did not leave the office for lunch. I left a party early tonight and did not go out to see my favourite band play, because people might stand close enough to touch me.
And I do not know how to be angry about what happened, because he did not look back as he sped away. We never saw his face.