On the calf of her leg is a tattoo. It says “Masuyo.” The neighborhood calls her Massy. Living this block for years, Massy ceaselessly works her territory, pulling a luggage cart behind, packed with cardboard boxes, trash bags and a small weekender suitcase strapped with frayed multicolored bungee cords. When she’s not pulling, she flips the hoodie off her head, revealing a face fit for a model, streaked with dirt and sweat.
Sleepy, she jumps up on the window ledge outside of the sushi café and lies down straight and rigid. Every tendon taut. Legs parallel, arms at her side. Rigid. Then on the hour, pop; she jumps down off the ledge onto the shaded easement and scans the leaves that have fallen to the ground. She places them in order. Arranges them carefully, just so, on the sidewalk in a pattern no one else can see. Then she sleeps again, for another hour, this time under the tree. It's her seventh round.
Under a tree, Massy sleeps differently. Like a little girl, covering her stained feet in the striped socks she keeps in her pocket. Her lower lip pouts just a little, her eyes, gently closed, in fetal position under her heavy red coat, knickers bunched up around her knees. She pulls her hoodie back over her black knotted hair, matted, and littered with debris.
While she sleeps, the leaves are rearranged by the wind and the footsteps of passersby.
On the hour, she wakes abruptly and perfectly executes a cinematic kick-jump to her feet. Bam. Some onlookers wait for that moment, often bringing friends to watch. But Massy’s eyes are fixed on her leaves.
She re-scans, mumbles and argues to herself. No one understands.
Then shifting her eyes; quick like her kick-jump; Masuyo glares at the onlookers. Her face turns stern.
“You got change. You got change,” she demands.
Some people toss coins, but she throws them back as quick as she catches them. They know it. It's why they do it.
Three shirtless guys walk by, "Hey, Miyagi," one shouts.
"You Eggroll?", one asks with mocking accent.
The other, yelling "Lemonhead!" throwing a quarter to test her skill. It comes back fast, bouncing off his head and falls squarely into his pants pocket.
During the onslaught, old bruises reappear on her face.
“You got change!”, she yells as the onlookers leave laughing.
Then in a beat, after the last one walks off, she bounces back up on the sushi café ledge.
She gets rigid, and whispers, “You got change.” She sleeps again, and the bruises fade.