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Egged and Unafraid

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We were standing on Main Street in Alhambra when it happened, just west of the movie theaters. It was evening and there were pedestrians out; the more stylish local bars were opening their doors to mysterious, blue-lit mahogany interiors; and in the pristine, white-walled art space at the back of the Nucleus anime boutique behind us, artist Sun An was lighting up his guitar pedals, getting ready to perform to the mysterious, looping color compositions he'd created on the giant projector screen.

We leaned against a palm tree and lit a cigarette, looking at our cell phone. Sun's first vague electric chord drifted out of the shop, hung foreboding over the sidewalk. It began to cycle rhythmically, layered over with slow, dissonant arpeggios echoing out of his other, acoustic guitar, equally distorted. We were feeling good. Our friend Sun was back from Japan for just a couple weeks, armed with fresh work. We watched a few pretty Chinese girls pass by. We were the only caucasian in sight on the street, though it hadn't occurred to us, really; the only one who had been in the store, for that matter, while Sun was warming up.

It was an art opening and, as such, there had been free booze. We were feeling no pain. Suddenly, however, there was pain. A lot of pain. It was sharp, localized in our chest. We lost our breath. For a few bewildering seconds, we froze in sheer terror. The pain was accompanied by a loud thump, and slowly our gaze swiveled down to our t-shirt, which appeared unruffled. In a sluggish, alcoholic realization, we concluded that one of our ribs might have just snapped of its own accord. We decided to move slowly and above all, not to panic. There had been another sound, a sort of liquidy splash off behind us, buried in passing Mandarin conversation. We turned. A broken egg was beginning to run, yellowing the sidewalk. An egg? We stared again at our dry shirt, then lifted it. A rounded, bright-red welt seemed to be rising on our (mildly padded) solar plexus. Finally, we looked up. Far down the street, a red Honda made a suspiciously quick lane change.

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We determined it was karma. Not that, for being white, we deserved to have an egg launched at us from a fast-moving car. No: We recalled the midnight we'd tossed our Old English empties onto the 405 from the Galleria roof (age 16, no cars around); and the time we'd blasted the wrong kid on Halloween with a potato shot from a PVC bazooka. We wondered, idly, whether God couldn't do any worse than this, and we leaned back against the palm tree, waiting for the red Honda to come around again. Then there was the time a kid threw a lit M80 under our car in traffic on the 4th of July, a firework which mysteriously failed to explode. We readied ourselves for a fight; but the Honda never showed. And in the end, we decided we'd gotten off easy.