Felix- Part 3
We got to 56th street and I was relieved to see a food cart. This was not any food cart. 10 people stood in line at 2:AM while 3 middle eastern guys worked full tilt facing away from the customers. Felix started signing something about money. I made signs saying I would pay. He made signs saying he forgot his wallet. I signed I would pay. He made signs for good food, rubbing his belly, counted 4 fingers and made the sign for a forgotten wallet, then pointed at the cooks, making a giving sign. The little flag I had in my head started flapping wildly. "Ohhh," I said. "You owe these guys money," signing each word. He nodded looking at me anxiously. "And you want me to bail you out or we can't get food." He was counting 4 fingers and rubbing his belly. "4 meals..." I confirmed, "that would be 20 dollars." I wrote 20 on my palm. He nodded, pulled out a notepad and wrote, 'pay back tomorrow.' I laughed, "I would gladly pay you Tuesday for a Hamburger today!" He looked at me puzzled. I pulled a 20 from my pocket thinking 'here we go, his services HAVE been worth a 20 to me, but if he gets money from me once, he's got my ticket.' I handed him the money determining not to give him any more. He took it and went straight to one of the cooks, boldly tapping him on the shoulder. Sure enough, after surmounting his initial annoyance at having his groove disrupted, he remembered Felix, took the money and turned back to his work, much to the relief of the now 15 people in line. Felix the Persistant grabbed the man's shoulder who turned, annoyed again. Felix began pointing to what food he wanted. The cook made an impatient gesture to get to the back of the line. Felix made two steps that direction and grabbed the shoulder of the next cook, who turned, not as exasperated and took Felix's order. The folks in line started yelling things, but of course, Felix couldn't hear. The first cook leaned to the second and said what I presume was 'make sure he can pay.' The second cook made the sign of money to Felix who then turned and pointed at me. I was then being stared at by two cooks and 15 hungry people. The flag in my head tore off it's pole and plastered itself to the windsheild of my mind. I pulled another 20 from my pocket and held it up nodding my head. This was satisfactory. Felix came to me, got the money, paid the cooks $10 and returned with 2 American pie platters HEAPED with chicken, rice, and salad. An amazing amount of food. I was daunted but not abashed. We kicked our way through a blocks worth of empty pie tins to the tables outside a nearby deli, sat, and inhaled. It was marvelous. A full $30 worth of face stuffing. When we finished, Felix began rooting through his pockets, pulling out wads of paper. Receipts, note pads, flyers, napkins, and the occasional dollar. After 6 or 7 pockets, he had accumulated 8 dollars, including coins, and handed it all to me. Then he patted his belly, his heart, and mouthed 'thank you' many times over. Stopping in between to assure me on paper how much he owed me and linking his index fingers together in the sign of fast friends. Which we were fast becoming. As much as my brain said 'Run Away!' my heart found more and more things to enjoy with Felix, and come 4:30 AM we were still actively waving our arms and laughing our heads off in front of the Deli. His faith in God is refreshingly pure and unpredictable. Finally I divined that my wife's patience was being maxxed out and said I needed to go. He held up his classic 'One more thing' finger and produced a bottle of rubbing alchohol from his backpack. I raised a questioning eyebrow. He poured a little over his hands and began vigorously to scrub them together. "Ahhhh!" I said, taking the bottle. I suddenly could feel the stickiness of Manhattan in every crease and groove of my palms. I am no stranger to the miracles of rubbing alchohol; I use it for aftershave, hand and armpit cleanser, and enjoy it on my cereal (that's a joke). I therefore felt an immediate strengthening of our relationship and a little jealous that I did not have a bottle in my backpack. Noticing that he removed the cap completely to pour, I demonstrated my own expertise by unscrewing the cap half way and squeezing a trickle out, so as not to waste any. His raised eyebrows told me he was impressed and I happily simonized my fingers. Standing up, I shook the excess from my hand, noticing in the edge of my hearing a small 'ding' from the street. I paid it no mind and sat back down to examine our new found commonality, that is the rubbing alchohol. Felix had written me a note: 'does your wife mind you out so late?' . I started to explain. 'My Wife,' I mouthed, grabbing my ring (the night's sign for wife) and I had NO RING! Well. If anything says you're being insensitive to your wife, it's staying out all night AND losing your wedding ring. Now we both knew it was near, because I had grabbed it several times that night. We began to look under the tables and chairs, in my pockets, and on the sidewalk. It started playing through my mind that Felix was an exceptional pick pocket but then I remembered the 'ding' I had heard. Replaying the handshaking and the direction I heard the noise from, we searched the sidewalk, the street, and finally the sidewalk on the far side of the street, where I found it some 40 feet away. Needless to say, I went home.