“Why am I being punished?” she asked them, her olive complexion turning slightly darker.
The cops shared a knowing glance, shook their heads slowly, and smiled. The taller officer showed her partner the ticket. He nodded, smiling, his hands resting on his thickly-studded weapons belt.
“The public consumption of alcohol is forbidden in New York City.”
Erya Rovend looked over at the sidewalk seating area of a nearby cafe. At a few of the tables, people were drinking what, to her, clearly appeared to be alcohol. Bottles of wine. Glasses of beer.
“Next time, maybe put it in a plastic cup,” said the woman as she tore a paper slip from her notepad and handed it to Erya. She took out her leather passport holder and slipped the ticket into it.
“You stay out of trouble now,” the man-cop said.
He and his partner sauntered away into the park.
Walking over a bridge later that same afternoon, the former Grigovian ambassador to the United Nations noticed a couple of young men scaling a chainlink fence nearby, dropping down onto the train tracks below, and rushing quickly out of sight. The way the men were dressed - their hooded sweatshirts and paint-stained backpacks - reminded her of friends back in Grig who did graffiti. She scaled the same fence as they had, dropped down also, and walked confidently into the gloom ahead. Soon enough, she could hear the familiar rattling of cans, the soft whooshing of paint being propelled out of steel cylinders. Pausing to look around at the walls of the tunnel, she found them to be covered in a riot of designs and shapes, words and figures blasted onto the surrounding concrete by countless former vandals.
“Now this is good stuff,” she said aloud, whistling quietly, in appreciation.
“You hear something?” one of the nearby artists hissed.
“No need to worry, friends,” Erya started to say as she turned to face their general direction, stepping accidentally onto a piece of broken wood that spun away to break a discarded liquor bottle.
There followed a flurry of zipping and cursing. The sound of people running. Then, silence.
Climbing over the train that had separated them, Era Rovend discovered that the men had vanished, their good graffiti work unfinished. An unfinished piece glistened in the faint light coming from the tunnel’s mouth. To her it looked like a group of citizens standing their ground against a phalanx of riot police. Under it was written in black and glaring letters the following statement:
Man The Barricades; Black Lives Matter.
© JPR / whorphan / americanifesto / 場黑