A Hunger Strike Reflection

The Frisco 5 hunger strike was in its 5th or 6th day. I had visited the encampment each day. Each day I saw familiar faces, new faces. I saw people in cars passing by, honking their horns in support. The strikers walked about, covered in blankets, conversing with reporters and supporters. I remember Selassie sitting in a chair, his head tilted towards the sky, eyes closed as if in communion with his inner self. Then he’d turn on the music and I felt transported back to my high school days, in the halls with the music of LTD, the Commodores and Earth Wind and fire turning the halls into a soul train dance line—oh, and classes too. It brought me back to a time when I felt the community in the pores of my skin, when I tasted every raindrop before I had to start paying for the rain that was to become bottled and packaged and presented in an app. Frisco five, five fingers on a hand that became a fist that became our heart—many people were feeling it—people outside of Frisco too. I left the encampment after visiting on a Saturday. The faces of the strikers stuck to me as I walked about. Then I heard a sound—a growl. It came from my stomach. It wasn’t a full growl, like the MGM movie lion, but a growl nonetheless—a growl that would come from a lion in the form of an animal cracker. I snuck into a liquor store and somehow a snickers candy bar landed in my pocket. How the fuck did that happen? I asked myself. I took the candy bar from my pocket, ripped it open. I looked at my reflection in the store window. Suddenly, I came up on the face of Equipto in the glass.
“What you doin’?” Equipto asked.
“Nothing” I answered, stuffing the candy bar into my pocket.
“What did you put in your pocket?”
“Come on man, I saw you put something in your pocket”
“It was, uh, a Swiss army knife”
“Man, that ain’t no knife. It was a candy bar”
Pangs of guilt ran the length of my body like an invasion of ants at picnic time. Pangs of hunger were in conflict.
“Ok man, you got me. It’s a candy bar”
“You ain’t got to hide it, blood”
“I know. I’m sorry. You ain’t eaten in a week and here I am holding a candy bar under your nose”
“Don’t worry about it. Man, eat the candy bar. It’s cool. I ain’t gonna hold it against you”
“You sure?
“Go ahead…eat it”
I took the candy bar, bit into it. The little animal cracker in me felt good.
“It’s a good candy bar, huh, blood? Equipto said.
“Yeah” I replied with my mouth half full.
“Packed with peanuts, huh?
“Yeah, like the commercial”
I chewed that candy bar like it was something out of the house of prime rib. I looked into the glass at the reflection. Equipto was gone. I looked into my own face.
“Packed with motherfuckin’ peanuts” I thought to myself. I walked down the street. The hunger strike continued.

© 2016 Tony Robles


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