[you can learn a lot of things from the flowers]
The CTA was like a time warp tonight. Usually it takes me years to get nowhere special but tonight, didn't it come through to bring me home? Yes, yes it did. I got here is 17 minutes, barely having time to pick up my newspaper. Sometimes time is funny like that, of course, making you feel like you've been somewhere an hour, when really you've been there for 10 seconds. Tonight it was vice versa, thanks be.
I, of course, didn't want to spend my extra time rationally, by going straight home and being there, all tucked in and warm at the Manor. No, I decided to go hunting for an open liquor store or, failing that, some doughnuts from the White Hen. I think you know what I got.
As I was leaving the Hen a woman came towards me:
"Can you spare any..."
Interrupts, "No, I definitely just spent my change."
Speaks through my rudeness, "cigarettes?"
"Yes, actually, I can spare that."
"If you'd spare me two, I'd pray for you."
This reminds me immediately of the time that Hunter asked me if I'd give him a massage and I said no, but I'll pray for you. This makes me smile. I hand out two cigarettes.
"You... man. You know, sometimes I might talk a little crazy, but when I get real quiet." Pause.
"You need a light?"
"Yeah, sure, honey, thanks."
She cupped her hands around my right, which held the lighter, to block the wind and rain. I lit one for myself. She told me the story of her night, and just how she got to the neighborhood which, it seemed later, we share. Apparently she sat down on a porch to avoid the rain. I can't blame her, since the rain tonight is the worst kind, the kind that doesn't pour, it doesn't slant, it just steadily reaches in with wet fingers to all the places you thought you had covered when you bundled up earlier to block it. On top of that, it's windy, so the rain isn't coming one way or another, it's the kind of windy splatter that comes up under the umbrella and catches it, turns it inside out, and makes you feel like a fool for trying to best Mother Nature in the first place.
So the porch she sat down on obviously belonged to someone, two someones, and they were none to happy to see the middle-aged lady with the side ponytail and the smeared lipstick sitting on it. The woman threatened to call the police and, instead, called an ambulance, saying that the person on her porch had a stab wound through her hand. From what I could see, this wasn't true, but - well, who knows what goes through people's heads. The men in the ambulance said she had a choice: The hospital or the drunk tank. She wasn't drunk, but in the 5 minutes I had been talking to her there was a few mentioned of crack and methadone, which I assumed the storyteller partook in.
She explained that they released her, because they didn't want to put her in triage incase she ran away...and then there was some mention of getting out of the hospital, fit as a fiddle, and falling on a little step while she looked for the bus. She held out her hands.
I didn't, but I nodded. They bent backwards, she said, and it hurt like a mother. Why couldn't this have happened before she got to the hospital? She's going to get the bill, she said, and when she does she's going to knocking on the door with the porch and the ambulance lady, and holding out the bill for her to sign. I told her I doubted that would do any good, and she knew, she was only kidding.
This is where the story started to get a little garbled. She started to get a little lazy with her speech, running strings of words up on top of the eachother, hugging a friend as they walked by. As we finished the last embers of our dying cigarettes the wind blew, knocking my umbrella from the rope I held it from, flying it down the sidewalk a ways.
"That's my cue,"
"Oh, I know, thanks for listening to my shit. I know you got some change in there."
No, I don't, I shook my head, but take care, and she says me too. I don't have any change, but I know it's coming, I can feel it for all the times the CTA takes me home in a heartbeat, only so I can end up there late after an intersting conversation with another person on a rainy night. It's not like we learn something tangible every time we have a chat with a stranger, but tonight, maybe she just needed someone to listen to her shit, to smoke a cigarette with. Maybe she didn't. Maybe she was ready to go home to her "old man, a real predator, wants me to give him a blow job after I let him use my pipe" - maybe she just took the chance for a cigarette, no matter who from. It really doesn't matter. For my part, I know that it's time to get moving when the cue chimes. It's time for a change, it's time to buck up and get moving, to start on the path that won't be so easy. Nothing's easy, of course. That's why I wouldn't give away change even if I had any to give.
I'll need it to buy cigarettes for the next person who comes along.
You can learn a lot of things from the flowers
especially in the month of June.
You can learn a lot of things from the flowers
It's a golden afternoon.
[Goodnight, sleep tight, don't let the bedbugs bite.]