Two nights ago: three police cars, one ambulance, and a lot of uniformed men stood between my walking desires and the Soviet grocery. The small group of onlookers moved restively to my right. I was afraid someone inside the Soviet had been robbed and hurt.
I wasn't there soon enough to see it as a narrative. Instead, someone had set a portmanteau on the ground and opened it, and a new world had popped out, an irregularly shaped cloud defined by red and blue lights.
Someone came out of the store, ponytail bouncing, and crossed through the cloud. I covered her like a guard in a basketball game. "Everything's cool," she said cheerily, and walked away in the dark.
I crossed that world but did not count in it. Ms. King, a store clerk from Jamaica, was watching everything from the front door, her face a mask. A man with a beer gut and a dirty shirt was demanding answers from somebody official.
Broccoli, cucumbers on sale, peach jam. I get in Ms. King's line to gossip. A woman was under arrest for stealing groceries. She was in an advanced stage of pregnancy. I had a sense, unconfirmed, that this arrest was intervention, in more ways than one. The world I crossed as a ghost was under control.
When I came back outside, all the vehicles had departed. The lamentation was elsewhere, inside that portmanteau. Peace reigned on the street.