This morning, while waiting for a bus made late by a breakdown, a small crowd had gathered at Moore Square. While minding our own business, a black man came along, dressed in a tan hoodie, and suddenly laced into a vile, racially-charged, epithet-strewn diatribe against an elderly white lady. She had done nothing to provoke it, other than be white. Having lived in a shelter for as long as I did, I was accustomed to such actions, but this lady had done nothing to deserve the viciousness of the verbal attack.
She stood there, silently, and took it. After a minute, the man turned and started to walk away, then turned back, finger pointed at the woman and began anew. At this point I started to slowly make my way toward the woman and as he turned and walked away again, I knew he'd turn again and when he did, I placed myself between him and her.
His diatribe had a new target. He asked me questions, which I tried to answer with nods or shakes, but then he asked me where I was from, and then demanded I answer. I told him I was from here. I then lowered my glasses on my nose, so that I could see him eye to eye.
He was young, fit and loud, I'm middle-aged, flabby, injured and quiet. Yet I stood my ground. The Paladin in me got fired up and though I knew my actions could result in the crap getting beaten out of me, I wasn't going to let him verbally abuse that woman any more.
He tried to get me to say something that would justify such a beating, but my naturally quiet nature foiled him. He turned and started to walk away, not looking where he was going. I saw the bus coming, and him headed for the street. I called "Watch out for yourself." He thought I'd talked back to him, turned, which probably saved his life, and said: "What did you say?" "I said Watch out for yourself, or the bus will hit you." He turned, saw the bus, and started to walk away, saying "Get your bifocals out of town."
A few minutes later the bus came, and I did get out of town, to go to work. But I'll be back.
There was never any hesitation, and no regrets. There were no cops at that hour. I knew the chance of being hurt was there. Thankfully, I was not attacked other than verbally. The lady, after it was all over said I was very brave.
Excuse me while I polish my armor. Let's hope I don't need a sword.