Four of my fellow screenwriters, Ted, Nick, Howard, Gary, and I were hanging out after our weekly table read at Austin Recreation Center. Homeless people come there to use the showers and other amenities, but are not allowed to sleep inside. Consequently, there is usually one or two who sleep on the hard concrete benches outside the entrance. It was around 10:00 p.m. and I had my back to the building standing on a curb in front of my four colleagues. Two of them were talking to each other a little removed from three of us. Two of the others saw the knife shortly after I did. I was the closest.
The man approached us to my back, asking a guttural question none of us understood. I turned to him and asked, “What do you need?” That’s when I saw the knife. None of us could say later what size it was, but the light glinting off of it made it look pretty large. Large enough to do some serious damage.
He repeated his question in his gruff voice, “Are you going to keep fucking with my life?”
I stepped slowly off the curb, looked him in the face, and answered softly, “No, baby, we don’t want to keep fucking with your life.” He stood a moment longer. The glower never left his face as he turned and walked back up the steps.
I turned back to the others, and one said, “Was that a knife?” Ted and I answered, “Yes.” Only three of the five of us had seen it, but we had all picked up on the menace.
As I went to my car with the guys keeping watch, I turned and saw the knife wielder lie back down on a bench. Gary and Ted called the police and stayed and waited for them. When asked if they wanted to press charges, Gary asked that they take him to the hospital to be evaluated instead. He had told the police he was off his meds. They agreed to take him to the psych ward.
He also assured the police that, “Those people were really nice to me.”
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