Friday, November 8, 2013

Nurse the Hate: One Night In DC

I was tired.  Spent.  There was an ache behind my eyes.  The guy at the bar to my right kept at it, telling stories about Guatemalan whores, government hit squads, and the strange medicinal properties of a Central American root and herb mixture.  He used an old time expression for it.  A preparation.  “Mr. Phelps oversaw the preparation, and after that I was 100%!”  The stories drifted from one to another, not really making much sense.  He was probably on Molly, or what he thought was Molly, most likely a lethal mix of meth, caffeine, and goat tranquilizers.  The Belgian Ale he slopped around in his goblet had no apparent effect, which seemed impossible given the cherubic monk on the bottle.  I had learned years ago that the more harmless the character on the bottle, the more deadly the contents.  Those Belgians had a sly sense of humor. 

I walked into the main room.  She walked up to me unsteadily either due to inebriation or the uncertainty of new heels.  She had a syrupy quality to her speech that indicated Georgia or Alabama.  It was the slow sweetness Southern women presented before draining your bank accounts and running off with the man their Daddy wanted them to be with all along.  “Darlin’.  Yew know how wonderful I think yew are?”  It meant nothing.  My hand rested on the table.  She tapped it with her hand as she spoke, in an effort to emphasize her interest in me at the moment.  Her eyes were deep and green.  Her face betrayed the beginning of lines that would in the blink of an eye make her look surly.  Makeup built up in those crevices.  I couldn’t stop looking at the tiny particles of powder.  “Where do yew think ahm from?” she asked.  I answered Alabama.  It was a 50/50 shot.  “Oh mah gawd!  How did yew know?”  She touched my back and suddenly launched into a coughing fit.  A productive cough they would call it.  Her face creased into the ugliness that age would bring as she hacked.  Her friend led her away without any explanation or apology, almost like a servant tending to the house matron.  Miss Alabama would pass along that horrible disease to some other unsuspecting man later tonight in her small apartment.  I was no longer the target.

The concrete steps that led outside were worn with age and wear.  When opening the door to the street it was like leaping onto a new stage set.  By chance the Ethiopian had been standing right next to the door smoking a strange cigarette.  He moved over two steps to the left to allow me entrance onto the sidewalk.  He nodded to me.  He was staring across the street at the sinewy black man in tattered clothes that was screaming at traffic.  In the past that homeless man would be called a hobo.  The word fit.  The wind played with the hobo’s words allowing us to hear only bits and pieces of his speech.  “…the CIA man....never gonna let….all the way to Panama…if you think…mind control…no fucking Doritos…”  He spoke with an urgency that captured our attention despite the fact he was obviously mad.  The Ethiopian finished his cigarette, nodded to me again, and then ducked back into the specialty restaurant next door.  The traffic hissed by in both directions.  The hobo kept yelling.  I jammed my hands in my pockets and walked to the van.        


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