Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Last Smile

The man in the mini and pantyhose was on the bus again today.

It’s in the church on the corner of Dana and Durant. Not the nice church, the ghetto one.
You wouldn’t even know it’s there unless you’re looking for it and then you go down and to your right and all of a sudden there’s a spacious, if run down, entryway.

The sign says hours 5:30 pm – 8:45 pm. It’s 3 pm. Damn, I should have checked the hours earlier.

I turn around, to go back to work. The two sheets of stapled paper folded in half, tucked under my elbow. A gaunt black man has come up behind me and mutters to himself “oh they’re closed” and he wants to know if I know where he can get clean clothes. In a clear, lucid voice he explains to me, “I have AIDS you see, so I got pneumonia and my clothes are soaked with sweat so I got to get into some clean ones.” I think on it for a minute, racking my brains for an immediate solution. None presents itself. I shake my head apologetically and he moves on. God damn it. God fucking damn it I can’t help you, I’m sorry. So, so, so sorry.

Some days are better than others. I sit at the lab bench and there’s that little spark I recognize, from the days when I felt on top of the world, nothing could touch me, I could do anything. Hope is a thing with feathers. But I don’t have good days anymore, I have good hours, good moments. I get a call from the Berkeley Free Clinic for an interview, tiny victory with no way to support myself in it even if I get the position, spark. I need a month worth of good days and maybe this perma-funk will melt. Maybe baby.

Didn’t think about it, could care less to know it, I didn’t even try to find it, dumps the secret into my lap. Mona Lisa smiling he wants me to find it. So five minutes, not even. Snap my fingers, I humor him. Sift through the 14 days and it’s exactly what I didn’t care to find: perma-her, replacement-me, your darling used-to-be red-head angel. Silly rabbit, duty done and done. Thought you get me.

And now my darling red-head angel on the phone breathes teasing sweetness into my life.
Maybe baby.

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