(The following piece is by Christopher K. Reprinted with permission. Check him out at - http://www.myspace.com/goosekirk)
And then sometimes you're not paranoid enough.
Midnight, downtown Bogota, Colombia, walking home alone, a little sick, a little drunk, a lot tired. Hands in pockets, slouched, looking like prey.
The kid walks up behind me on the left. Hey, hey, hey, he says. I ignore him for awhile, then when I look his way, he asks for the time. Looks like a regular college kid, decently dressed, carrying a satchel - I pick up something weird off him, but I'm too fucked to care.
Midnight, I tell him.
How far are you walking, he says?
Up there, I say. Fuck off. Maybe he's just too scared to walk alone. Not my problem. I look away, across the street, away from him, and that's when he lunges for me.
He grabs me from the side, arm tight around the waist, and mumbles something about having a knife. He's hugging me close.
I'm so dumb, my heart rate doesn't even increase. No adrenaline shot. Shit. I'm just sort of irritated, and only mildly.
Are you trying to rob me or rape me, I ask, not entirely facetiously.
The kid keeps staring straight ahead, bugeyed for the cops. I keep walking, slouching, hands in pockets. I know what a real professional mugging is, and this ain't it. Fucking amateur, wasting my time.
He doesn't say anything.
Look, I say, the best thing that can happen here is, you fuck off and go away. Nice try.
I hear footsteps coming up fast from behind. Great, I actually think, maybe someone to come pull this jerk off me. Instead I feel a hand in my outside coat pocket, on the right.
Well, fuck me. Kid's got a partner.
Nothing in my outside pocket but some plastic wrappers. Makes noise if someone tries to get in it. Convenient. I look back and it's a pudgy black guy.
I keep walking and weigh the situation. The kid on the left is freaked out and ready to bolt, but the new guy on the right looks more confident. He probably won't fuck off so easily. Fine. I pull my left hand out of my pocket and raise it up and look to the right. Can I catch this guy in the throat? Grab for an ear?
Reflexes too slow. As soon as I pull out my left hand, there's a bump on my thigh and the kid lets go. Fucked off like I expected, and I'm turning my attention to the guy on the right.
But the guy on the right has stopped a few steps behind me. Wait a minute. He's looking into traffic, waiting for his opportunity to bolt across the street.
Wait. I stop and look to the left. The kid's gone. I turn all the way around, and the kid's already made it across the street and is running for a dark alley. I'm confused. This is the worst mugging ever. The black guy sees his break and runs, and I'm standing there thinking, what the fuck?
And then I feel my pocket. My old shitty cell phone is gone. My pants are baggy with big open pockets. That was the bump on my thigh. The cell phone is hardly a loss, but shame about the numbers I had stored and never wrote down.
I consider chasing them, but what the hell, I wanted a new cell phone anyway, and it was my own fault for being such a sucker in the first place. Let 'em have it.
Paranoia: not such a bad thing to keep around, alone, downtown, late at night.