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2017-04-13 - 8:52 p.m.

A few weeks ago, we were walking to Rocket to Venus, for dinner and a drink. It had been a long day. We were tired, hungry. It was the earliest spring, the flowering trees just beginning their flowering, the birds, busy from nest-building, quiet, all the world whispering: ready, ready, ready.

Nearly there, we passed a minivan, around which five, six people, all of them older, were gathered. We heard a sound, a human sound. "Ooooh," it went. It came from inside the car. Anxiety, pain, worry on all the faces. For a brief second, I considered stopping, but we walked.

A block later, nearly to the restaurant, two waiters rushed out the front door, past us. Wait here, I said to Violet, and I followed them. Inside the minivan, an old man was immobile, wailing, going "Ooooh." He was wedged, between two seats. He could not help himself, and the men--old but not as old as the old man--could not help him, either. The man was in a bad spot. "Ooooh," he kept saying.

An old lady, white-haired, 80, maybe older, said, "We called the ambulance but they haven't come."

The two waiters climbed into the van, each of them grabbing an arm. I pulled on the man's jeans. "Ooooh," he said. I pulled harder, but he wouldn't budge. I pulled harder. His jeans ripped. I shifted my grip and, after a lot of pushing and pulling, we managed to get his butt into the seat, where it belonged. I kept thinking: please, nothing break. Please, nothing break. I did very little, really. I was just happy for the old man. I was breathing hard.

Ten minutes later, breathing normally, sitting with Violet, with our friends, all of us relatively young, drinking beer, the old lady with the white hair appeared at our table. She had, in her shaking hands, a twenty dollar bill. Here, she said, please take this. No, I said, that's very kind, but I can't. She tried again, and then I saw that she was crying. She put the bill into her pocket and, still crying, she left the restaurant.

Violet said: I want to give her a hug.

And I almost did. I almost rose from my seat, clean and warm, belly about to be full, and gave her a hug. But I didn't. And then the old lady with the white hair was gone, and by then the food I'd ordered was in front of me, steaming.

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