He didn’t show up to meet me at Fuel. I guess I wasn’t too surprised. When we exchanged numbers, I told him I’d call as soon as I was all moved in to my new place at Harbor Island. He told me to text instead of call, because he was low on minutes. I texted him, but got no response.
I left for work early the next day, so that I could stop by 24 Hour Laundry, and touch base with him.
“Maybe my wife got it”.
I had met his wife by chance, on the very same day that I’d first met David. It was later in the day, and I needed some staples to last me through the move. David was standing out in front of The Mercado adjacent to 24 Hour Laundry, – and for a split second it felt awkward to run into each other so soon after just meeting him, but that feeling quickly passed away.
“Gonna grab some peanut butter and eggs, … keeping the food simple for this move!”
“I heard that”.
I ducked into the market, and quickly did my shopping. I thought about getting a package of the Mexican probiotic sports drinks that come in those little plastic bottles, – then I thought better of it. I walked back out into the sun and the heat just as David’s wife was coming out of the phone store next door.
“This is my wife Stephanie – This is Mike, the writer I told you about.”
She was as short and petite, as he was big and tall. At first I thought she might be Asian, but then it was clear, – she was a Latina. “Camden, New Jersey”, I thought, as I now guessed them to be Puerto Rican. She stepped up and held out her hand, but when I shook it – it was cold and wet. It was a disappointing, unpleasant sensation, only in that it might be considered a bad omen. I cringed a little inside as I realized that it was probably me, from when I picked up the eight pack of probitic drinks in the dairy cooler.
We had made plans to meet here in The Hard Rock at 11:00 am on Tuesday. Tuesday Night/Wednesday Morning was his “Day Off”. He didn’t have anything scheduled with the furniture movers, and he usually got up around 10 …
At ten after eleven I ordered myself a cafe mocha, and read El Tim, Point Of View, Her First Detox, and Phantom Pain. I gave him a chance to show up, – but I knew he wouldn’t. Maybe he got called in to work on his night off. Maybe he got called in to move some furniture. Maybe his wife was running interference.
To be fair, I had blurted out, “I’ll do it for a dollar a page.” That would be a lot of money for them. They had moved out of Harbor Island, into Siegel Suites, – the exact opposite of what I’d just done. And he had mentioned that they were trying to move across the street to The Paradise Apartments. Another step up.
Yeah, they had probably talked about it, and she put her foot down, “we can’t afford no $200 dollars for you to tell your story.”
She was the smart one.
Then it occurred to me that maybe the they were “on the run”. After all, he had said more than once, “they killed my brother, man – they killed my brother.”
Who were “they”?
The cops! Gangsters! … CIA?
I hoped it wasn’t the money. I had already decided not to charge him anything. I’d just get him self published on Amazon.
David’s Story, by David Puerto Rican ~ with Mike Strong.
I had also toyed around with the idea of coaching him to write it himself, and then it dawned on me that he might not be able to write, … or read. That would explain the no-level jobs he held. Or were they really on the lamb? Was he getting paid under the table – under the radar, keeping a low profile?
I thought about offering to teach him how to read … Jesus! What if they were really on the run from some heavy East Coast Shit?
So many questions.
No sense worrying about it. It was probably nothing. Everyone thinks they have a story to tell, (and they do) – if they know how to tell it.
I’m living on the edge of working poverty and homelessness. What business do I have thinking I can help out a young couple on the run from the CIA and The Latin Kings? If I don’t get my stats up at the call center, I’m going to be in a pickle. I’ve got to find a more stable job. I’ve got to renew my driver’s license, and to pass the eye exam I’m going to have to get prescription glasses . I’m pretty sure I don’t know where my Social Security Card is; so I’m going to have to blow a whole day down there … some good black work shoes.
And internet …
The whole reason I moved over to Harbor Island was so I could afford wifi, but it turns out Harbor Island is a, – there must be a term for it – a wifi “cold spot”? Now McDonald’s is a mile away, and it costs me three bucks to get a coffee and write at the Starbuck’s on East Flamingo.
So: glasses, black shoes, SS card, and driver’s license – and dry cleaning.
I still have four good shirts to pick up at 24 hour Laundry. Maybe I’ll make time to pick them up in the early am, and see what’s up with David and his story …