Walking home at 4 a.m. from my bartending job, I heard a man scream from the dark little park near my apartment building. He was in serious trouble. My first instinct was to run away, but he screamed again, in more terror and pain this time, so I charged into the park babble-screaming and swatting the air like it was filled with nocturnal yellow jackets. A New York friend once told me that if he ever felt threatened in the city, then he acted like a homeless schizophrenic.

"Crazy cancels crazy," he said.

I doubt that's true, but what other options did I have? So I crashed through a hedge into the clearing, where one man was punching another man bloody. Jumping up and down, I cursed nonsense at the assaulter. Clearly unafraid, he pulled a pistol from somewhere and pointed it at me. I dove back into the hedge, had to fight again the instinct to flee, and then rose out of the hedge and pretended my cell phone was a gun.

In the dark, in a half-assed shooting stance, I suppose I resembled a predawn vigilante. And maybe I would have scared the asshole away, but, for some truly insane reason, I shouted, "Bam, bam, bam, bam," like a kid playing war. And then, to make it worse, I started laughing.

I figured I was soon to be part of a double homicide, but the pistol-packing dude smiled and ran off in one direction, while his victim ran off in another.

Shaking with fear and elation, I kept laughing. Then I blew imaginary smoke from the barrel of my imaginary gun and tucked it back into my pocket.

"Ma'am, I'm no hero," I said to the moon. "I'm just doing my job."

Then I went home, masturbated, and fell back in love with this magical world. recommended