Big Sugar

Big Sugar was easily identifiable as—besides his enormous size—he had two fingers missing from his left hand and an evil looking scar that started just below his left eye and continued working its way down his face and neck only to disappear into the heavy work-shirt he usually wore. He was listening intently, as Stella, a one-legged diabetic, who lived in a wheelchair and made her living begging coins in the Port, usually in front of the north wing of the terminal, was explaining to him how a former pimp and drug-dealer, who was presently out of business and homeless, had just ripped her off, stealing all of the money in her begging cup. Big Sugar knew the culprit by his street name, Blacksnake, and saw him, standing several yards away staring intently at Stella and Big Sugar knew immediately that Blacksnake realized that the jig was up when he smiled deceptively and then turned and ran for cover. It was shoulder to shoulder on 42nd Street at this hour, just after seven p.m., and Blacksnake, who knew every crack and crevice in the sidewalks, soon disappeared from view. Big Sugar scowled. “He gone Stella—how much did he get?”

“He gots all my dinner money Sug-gah fo-ah bucks.”

Big Sugar was known for protecting the weaker of the Port’s homeless. “Oh mahn Stella, that is a shame, its turbull, but I will get it back for you—you’ll see.”

Stella frowned and her head drooped onto her emaciated chest, as she sniffled silently; but then a woman dropped a dollar bill into her empty cup and she perked up, thinking that maybe she would eat this evening and why not? After all, Big Sugar was back. He was Stella’s personal savior, as well as many of the other Port’s homeless and downtrodden, as they had been forced to routinely turn over their alms and possessions to the many thieves and thugs who had waylaid them on a regular basis, until, that is, three and a half months ago when Big Sugar had appeared on the scene and it had been, ever since, almost an aberration, as it had been this very evening with Stella, that any of the weaker residents were robbed at all. Big Sugar had been on the other side of the Port helping someone else when Blacksnake had seen his chance and robbed her. Stella had never known such peace before Big Sugar had shown up—she had even taken notice of, as Goethe defined clearly, her second soul—hope. Big Sugar was her savior and had been the one who had brought that peace and hope back into her life, even as his very presence now seemed enough to scare any and all of the would-be thieves and thugs away from her—far into the night.

A man dropped two quarters into her tin cup and Stella beamed, realizing that she would make the stolen four dollars back now, in no time at all, for Big Sugar was back and he had always brought her good luck, as savior’s have a way of doing.

­Big Sugar stood surveying the crowded sidewalks of the metropolis known far and wide by most of its residents, simply as the City, and kept a wary eye for any of the many thugs and scam artists he knew on sight, as he put a determined grimace on his already scarecrow appearance, for Big Sugar wished not to engage anyone in physical combat unless, like Blacksnake, they had enacted a deed that called for retribution, so as to make certain that the misdeed they had performed would be their last, in the Port Authority anyway. Big Sugar was dressed in a pair of faded blue-jeans, a woolen shirt that helped to camouflage a razor-sharp thirty-inch long machete and he wore a pair of nineteen triple E work boots that he had purchased for a cut-rate price at a downtown Amy-Navy store. He was quite a sight, a savior for many, like Stella, and a nightmare for others, like Blacksnake, who would stay away from the Port for many weeks to come, his fear of Big Sugar enough to do what no blue uniform and badge had ever done.

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