Jonathan Dittman | Daniele Murtas
There’s a frail woman with frizzy hair sitting in front of me at the coffee shop who I want to punch in the face. She hasn’t wronged me in anyway — she is merely sipping her coffee, inconspicuously nibbling on a blueberry muffin with bony, liver-spotted fingers — but I want to crack her nose with my fist. I know it’s terrible; the thought alone would make anyone find me offensive and cruel, but I would never do it. It’s just a thought. We all have them, right?
Alright, so it’s not the first time I’ve contemplated it. I had the same thought about my grandmother when I was younger and my own mother about a month ago. Don’t tell me I need help. I’ve been seeing a psychologist for three months and he keeps telling me I’m fine, that we aren’t our thoughts. But I don’t get it. If our thoughts don’t constitute what we are, then what does? He says it’s our actions. But aren’t our actions just an extension of our thoughts — the point of origin for our behaviors?
By his logic, if I keep from punching that old bag in the face and only think about it, I’m still a good person. I can live with that.
I can’t though. I’m going to punch her.
I stand and walk up to her table. She turns to face me and I see her bulbous nose begging for it. The vascularity of her nostrils antagonizes me and I make a fist with my right hand — my dominant hand. If I’m going to actually punch an old lady, I want my full force behind it.
I close my eyes; my fist is clenched. The world is my oyster.
But then I feel something brush against me and the moment is gone.
I open my eyes; my fist unfurls. I’m a pathetic little shit looking at a man ten years younger than I am. The man, tatted up in a sleeveless shirt, sits down at the old woman’s table. He is a behemoth. From a biblical perspective, if one is tempted to go that route, it’d be a classic David versus Goliath match-up if I took a swing at the bag of bones that is still unaware of me.
The behemoth stares at me. “Can I help you, son?”
Son? I laugh. He doesn’t seem to like that. He’s about to get up, so I decide it’s now or never. I ball my hand and curl my thumb across my knuckles. I take a swing, and before the behemoth can react, I connect with the brittle facial bones of the old woman and hear the most beautiful sound. It is the sound of affirmation. I am not a good person.