hero

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Evening fades into night. Rain spatters down on the windows of the bus cruising through the outskirts of town. Behind me, three young men mutter and laugh, their chatter punctuated with oneupsmanship and increasingly potent curses.

The “stop requested” light bleeps on. With minimal leave-taking, one of the swearing men alights from his seat and steps out into the rain. As he breezes past my seat, the flaccid leather hem of his coat brushes my calf.

Without moving my head, I glance out the window and take him in: a big slumping hulk of a boy, his rounded shoulders hunched under the too-tight black leather. Instead of floating around him in the windy night like the badass longcoat of an antihero, the coat droops off him, wet and ill-shaped.

One of his friends must be looking out the window, too, but he sees with younger eyes; he says “That’s an L.A. coat, man.”

His friend is unimpressed. “Huh?”

Gamely trying, the kid presses on. “A Los Angeles coat. Angel? You know? Angel?”

They ride the rest of the way in silence.

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