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Play with the devil and he’ll spit in your eye

An old woman who appeared raceless stands wearing a crocheted cap cocked to the side like the Black Panthers once wore their leather berets. She might have once lived near Huey Newton in West Oakland but she’s no militant; she was probably too tired to put the cap on all the way. She’s talking to herself, something about stupid, low-down people who come and get the coins that are supposed to be for the laundromat customers. She repeats herself louder this time. “That’s what’s wrong with the world today, those ole’ low-down nasty people taking quarters from the customers’ machines. Now they know better than that.” She looks directly at me. She has moved closer without me knowing. I gotta pay better attention; even old folks can get the drop on you these days. My home training tells me to acknowledge her. “Well, there’s enough for everybody,” I say and look away quickly not wanting to continue this useless and unnecessary conversation, in of all places, the damn laundromat. “Well, they shouldn’t do it,” she says. Noticing that I had turned away she moves so, so, s-l-o-w-l-y with her wheeled-walker. Her voice trails off, mumbling unrecognized words now. She’s getting her wet clothes and taking them to one of the really LARGE dryers. Good luck drying everything, I think in that smart aleck way, as my clothes spin themselves into a soapy, irresistible frenzy. I watch with both delight and dismay.