Tuesday, October 2, 2012

What the Hell?


I was still in his bed while he stood in his miniscule kitchen making coffee. "The cops have been watching me," he said. I wanted to ask if he wasn't too much of a small-time dealer for that, but I didn't know if it would insult him. "It's not just the pot," he said, as if mind reading was just one more thing he could manage to pull off without even trying.
"What then?" I said.
"Welfare fraud, bad checks, dozens of traffic tickets. And the Feds want me for tax evasion."  He pulled the sheet away from me and gave me the look that told me he thought I was beautiful, then waited for me to sit up and handed me my coffee. 
"Well, you ought to get the hell out of town," I said, plotting my own escape. Damned if I'd go down with his sinking ship. He was full of bullshit about being the captain of his life, not bowing down to the man---well, I was just a deck-swabber, cleaning up little catastrophes here and there, enjoying his pot and his bed. I had no qualms about jumping overboard.

It was later that night when I realized I had nowhere to go. I asked my friend Diane if I could sleep on her couch. One night, she said. The next day I went to look at apartments in a building that had a unit I had seen some months ago and liked. But when I pulled up in front the face of the building was sheared off like a dollhouse.  The apartments looked like empty boxes flimsily stacked on top of one another. It seemed indecent somehow, this wholesale peeking inside. No draperies or rugs or furniture. What the hell is happening here, I wanted to know. 

Later, driving around in my car, the cops called my cellphone. I barely know the man, I said when they asked me about him. Friend of a friend. I was couch surfing. Nothing more. I knew it would be trouble for me later, but I called his cell phone to warn him. "Get the hell out of town," I said. 

"Come with me," he said.

I was already driving up the coast. Betrayal, betrayal, my tires sang as they whirred against  the pavement. 

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