"You got a smoke I can borrow?" she asked.
"No," I said, "sorry."
"Can I have some of your beer?"
"Sure." I handed her the beer. She took a big drink and gave it back.
"You sure you don't have a smoke? " she asked.
She didn't say anything for the next few minutes, just twitched a bit now and then, and looked nervously about. "You're kinda cute," she eventually said.
"Thanks," I said.
"What are you doing out here?"
"Working, kind of."
"Yeah? Me, too. You got any money?"
"Maybe. A little bit."
"Wanna go buy us a drink somewhere?"
I considered a moment. I had some money in the bank, but it was all needed for rent, which was already six days late. But I was about a hundred bucks short, so what did another twenty matter? In the next few days I figured I'd buck up and get the rest of the signatures needed for my petition. I'd get paid, and all would be right again for a little while. At that particular moment, going to get a drink with this woman seemed about the best thing going.
"Okay," I said.
I got forty dollars out of an ATM and then we wandered down Mission St. looking for a bar. It was mid afternoon and most of the bars had not yet opened for the day. It made no sense to me. Weekday afternoons seemed as necessary a time to drink as any other. People had no imaginations. We finally found a dark little Mexican place on 24th St. It was perfect, a wonderful place to hide from the day. A short, chubby woman with a kind face stood behind the bar pouring a bag of pretzels into little baskets. She smiled a decent smile as we walked in the door. A few old Mexican men with cowboy hats sat at the bar and glanced our way for a moment and then turned back to their drinks. A jukebox played Latin pop songs. We sat at the bar and I ordered a dark Mexican beer. She ordered a Jack and Coke. She. I just realized I didn't know her name. And just as I realized it I also realized that it didn't matter, but for the sake of conversation and conventions I asked her as we waited for the drinks.
Poem For A Friend In Prison:
by A.D. Winans