Citizens

 

CITIZENS
By E.A. Cook
Scarface Billy saw me before I saw him. “Hey Roll-Yer-Own. What’s up, tramp?”
I said “Hi” with my chin, and set my duffel down by his park-bench.
I didn’t expect to see a familiar face in Portland when I crawled out of the boxcar that morning. Night Eyes was sleeping off a drunk under an over-pass when I slipped away and hopped a freight out of Seattle the night before. She wouldn’t cry when she woke-up. Citizens cry. Tramps just move on.
Scarface aimed the neck of his bottle of Thundebird at the other end of the bench, and said,”Sit and light. Chief’s sittin’ there, but he went on a wine run. Been gone awhile.”
I took out the makings, rolled two smokes, and flipped one at Billy. He caught it with his left hand, his right was lifting the bottle to his lips.
“Drink?” He offered in a wine-whisper between swigs. I nodded, reached for the offered bottle, lifted the bottom to the cold, over-cast sky, and let the medicine burn it’s way past my cold heart, into my damaged stomach.
Scarface looked sharply over my shoulder, said”Chief! No!”, when the ham-sized fist found my temple. I half-turned in time to get a glimpse of the big indian before the grey washed over me.
On the way to the ground, I heard “My spot!”. Then the blackness came.
It was dark when I woke up on the ground, right where I fell. Cold rain hit my exposed cheek, while dried blood glued my other cheek to the grass. I hissed the pain through my gritted teeth as I peeled my head from the ground. A young couple on an evening stroll down the bike-path stepped wide and away as they saw me rise from the shadows. Their arrogant, dis-approving eyes watched me closely until they were safely away. “Nasty.” I heard her say. Bitch.
Citizens cry. Tramps just move on.

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An excerpt from FURTHER- coming out 2016

 “Slacker. Get up!” Smilin’ Chris outside my door. My only friend, and driver. I’m off the grid. I’ve never had a license.

     When I first rolled into New Orleans, Chris was my first cabbie. He’s been getting me where I need to go ever since. He never knocks, just speaks through the door. I got up from the kitchen table, black coffee in-hand, and made my way over to the door and snapped the dead-bolt open.

     “Palaver?” I said.

     “Yeah, you right.”

Palaver, a word my father uses for a sit down discussion. It was understood that we wouldn’t waste words until we both had a cup in one hand and a smoke in the other. I poured a cup for my “brother from another mother” while he lit a smoke.  It was 2 pm. I had been up for about fifteen minutes. The ebony, eternally smiling guy across the table from me knew that this was morning for me. We’re both night-owls but, as far as I know, he never sleeps. That makes me the slacker. Whatever. Asshole. I wake-up homicidal. He thinks it’s hilarious.