Bongani was not sure he liked New York City. To be fair to The Big Pear (wait, Apple), he was pretty sure that it was due to everything that had happened to him over the past few months rather than anything wrong with the place itself. It was
a world renowned city, after all, and when he’d first spotted it, its countless towering skyscrapers gleaming in the winter sun as they reached for the clouds, its arching bridges stretching across dark waters, the African man had understood why it featured so prominently in American movies (and seemed to be where all invading nations or aliens felt an attack would striker hardest at the American people). It was glorious in its overwhelming way. So full of life and sound and smells and activity. Even before he’d crossed its invisible borders Bongani had been able to tell that things there never truly settled.
And had Bongani been there on a voluntary visit, on a vacation, he likely would have found it fascinating...if still also a little overwhelming. After the past...oh he wasn’t even sure how many months now, after how frayed he felt, both body and soul, it made him feel small and jumpy like a mouse that knew a cat was lurking somewhere nearby but couldn’t figure out from where it would be pouncing.
The irony of that
was missed on him because the shifter was also exhausted. It showed in every bit of his body language, from his hunched head and shoulders to the way his arms just hung from the pockets of his large, worn coat where his hands were seeking refuge to the trudge that made his too small shoes scrape the pavement with each step. The dog at his side, at least, seemed a bit more energetic and certainly more alert. Ears forward, tail up, eyes alert, Rafiki
watched the new world passing by them, nose twitching with each fascinating, tempting smell the soft, cold breeze blew around them. He saw the buildings they passed, the people walking by, even the threat rolling slowly down the street behind them. Unfortunately, the mutt understood the importance of none of it.
A car door slammed shut, a voice called out. “Hey, you, with the dog.”
A little bleary eyed, Bongani looked up and around, not realizing at first that the voice came from behind him but quickly spotting why trouble was stirring. Dark eyes lost their sleepy glaze and the Kenyan felt his heart begin to patter as he took in the sleek, crisp store fronts with their fancy clothing, the well tended trees poking out of decorative grates on the sidewalk, the people who all looked important, clean cut, and like they belonged in the penthouses no doubt above him…
Rafiki moved a few more steps forward before pausing to glance back at Bongani. The young man stood frozen, acutely aware that he did not
look like he belonged there. Dirty, clothed in worn, stolen, mismatched clothes too big or small, he stood out on the tidy street like a injured finger and he caught more than a few uncertain, slightly hostile glances tossed his way. Swallowing, Bongani reached up to pull his hood down lower and tried to think invisible thoughts as he quickly hastened forward, eager to find a quick exit out of the wealthy neighborhood he hadn’t even noticed he’d blundered into.
The voice called out again, more forceful.
Bongani looked over his shoulder and felt his breath catch at the sight of two uniformed officers, one climbing out of the car parked at an awkward angle against the sidewalk, the other already walking toward him. Their expressions mirrored those of the people around him (many of whom began to back away from the confrontation they saw coming), but there was a hard, suspicious edge to their eyes and a menacing feel to their steps that made Bongani certain he was already in trouble despite what the nearest one said next. “We just want to talk…”
The shifter bolted.
(Note: while this is open, it might be fun for somebody to think the guy running from the cops is the badguy and intervene. Just saying