I had to do a double take as I was standing out on Vernor Avenue near Clark Park. There was Mulenga Harangua walking along as big as day. He wasn't wearing a disguise or doing one of his usual look-over-there antics.
"Hey, Mulenga," I hollered to him. "What are you doing in my old stomping grounds?" I had grown up not far from there. "But even more to the point, what are you doing out here in the open, right here in the middle of the day for anyone to see? Aren't you worried you'll be seen by the agents you say are always after you?"
Mulenga turned to me with a big smile. "Government shutdown baby," he said. "All the agents are off duty right now. They're back home having a few beers and laying bets on the Super Bowl."
"You know it's only the federal government that's shut down, don't you?" I pointed out. "The state, the county, and the city are still hard at work."
"I know," Mulenga said, casting a wary eye across the park. "But I figure with the feds out of the way that just lowers the risk factors all around. I can handle the local authorities. I've been at this a long time. Those feds can look at you from those satellites in outer space."
"So what are you up to?" I asked.
"I've been thinking about that Jorge Garcia the feds just deported," he said. "There's no reason that should have happened. I saw a clip of his family on a news show. His son could only sit there and cry when they asked him questions. I saw that even his dog knows something is up."
"That is a true injustice," I agreed. "This guy has been here for decades and he is a contributing member of society."
"I'm not talking about the justice part," Mulenga asserted. "I mean if I had got to him first he could be living incognito and underground like me. I could have showed him how to do it. I'm here in Mexicantown to spread the word on how to go underground. I figure there are probably a lot more people around here who have to watch out for ICE. You see, Garcia's problem is he tried to play the game by the establishment rules — going up in their offices and filling out forms, giving them his address. He showed them right where to come and get him. They come to get me, I'm not there."
"You know the Garcia family lives in Lincoln Park, not in Detroit, don't you?" I asked.
"Well yeah, but I can't go out there," Mulenga said. "I never leave Detroit. Well, I've been to Highland Park several times and even Hamtramck, but mostly I don't leave Detroit."
"How well-traveled you are," I said.
"You can mock me if you want, but I'm still here," Mulenga said.
"They just might deport you for being a terrorist," I opined. "And what about that play you wrote mocking Trump. They will come after you."
"But they won't find me," Mulenga bragged. "I'm like mercury. You try to corral me, I just bead up and appear somewhere else. You can't even find me unless I let you."
"That true," I mused.
"Of course it's true," Mulenga said. "Here's another thing. I didn't come out in the open just because the feds are on shutdown."
Mulenga got a mysterious look in his eye. "I've seen a sign from the heavens."
"Mulenga, that was just a meteor that blew up over Hamburg," I said.
"But it was a sign, too," Mulenga insisted. "It turned the night into day. That's a sign."
"Oh it's a sign all right," I said. "It's a sign that whoever finds those space rocks will get $300 or more per gram for it."
"They pay that much for those rocks?" Mulenga was incredulous. "That's more than cocaine. Maybe I should start searching for those."
"You'd have to leave Detroit to do that."
"Oh," said Mulenga, a bit taken aback. "Well, it was still an omen."
"Well, the day after the meteor exploded, Amazon announced they had eliminated Detroit as a location for its new headquarters," Mulenga said.
"Just because one came after the other doesn't mean one caused the other," I said. "You know that."
"I know a lot of things," Mulenga said, somewhat ominously. "And I know that when the night turns to day it's a cosmic sign of things to come."
"One of Amazon's reasons for not coming to Detroit is our lack of dependable public transportation," I said.
"Don't they know we got the QLine?" Mulenga said. "It stretches from Jefferson to Grand Boulevard, moving the money back and forth along 3.3 miles of Woodward."
"When I hear about great transportation hooking things up for the Fitzgerald Community is when I'll believe the development has some chance of success," I said. "You can't leave things out on an island with no connection to anything else. What's your meteor got to say about that?"
"Something cosmic is going to happen," Mulenga persisted. "It's all connected: First Garcia is deported; then the meteor; then Amazon denied us. Do you think they're trying to send us a message? Maybe I should go back to wearing a tinfoil hat with an antenna on it."
"Well, I have to admit that Cindy Garcia getting invited to the State of the Union Address by Rep. Debbie Dingell is something out of the ordinary, and the outpouring of support for Jorge is out of this world. But I wouldn't connect it to a comet or the Amazon stuff."
"That's because you got no vision, man," Mulenga complained.
"Well, maybe I have a blind spot," I said. "But you know what would be cosmic? You getting grabbed because you're out here in the open."
"But they gotta find me first," Mulenga said. Or at least I think he said it, because he seemed to disappear into thin air.