He wore black shorts to match a black t-shirt and loose black du-rag tied around his head. He wasn’t so much leading his blind friend down the street as he was allowing the slower walking pace to give his jokes more breathing room; maybe he needed to think something over. The streets are about game, and if they could speak they would have told me that this guy had one. I’d crossed paths with him twenty minutes earlier. “What’s up Papi?” he asked then as he high-stepped down the middle of the street, an icebreaker. It was another street, and he seemed hyper-alert of my presence. This time he lobbed boasts into the Florida sun at intervals that matched his friend’s languid pace.
“Are you a freelance photographer or something?”
I nodded, having just snapped a picture of his friend, and amused by how easily the words freelance photographer had fallen from his lips. He crossed in front of me, perhaps to avoid the lens, and I lowered the camera anyway, a dance.
Was he really avoiding the camera? Had I let him off too easy?
His blind friend stood indignant, monologizing on the corner where I had snapped the photo. “Pictures?” he said. “Make sure to let him know that my appearance fee is five thousand dollars.” He looked around as if to an audience. “Shit,” he said, “I charge five thousand for my picture. Make sure he knows that.”