Monday, January 4, 2010

Last Call, Last Stand Part 2

It rained hard all the way to the corner bodega. I had thrown on a hoodie and a pair of jeans, and both were soaked through when I got into the store. My mood wasn't improving; the pounding water had beaten out the last of my buzz and my socks were getting wet. There was a brief staredown with my bedraggled reflection in the store window.

Looked at from the outside, I don't really come across as the consumate scumbag boyfriend. I keep my hair (brown enough to be practically black) trimmed in a tight buzzcut, although my goatee has gotten unruly over the past three days of screaming matches and sodomy. My eyes seem small behind my oh-so-ironic black framed glasses, and my face is broad and honest with a nose just a bit too big to fit on it. I'm told often that my smile is inviting and wicked. Its my only sinister feature, but I use it well-women in 2009 America learn early on that only the bad boys are sexy.

The best thing about the bodega is that the news on the little black and white TV is usually Univision, so I'm not assailed with current events every time I need a nicotine fix. This time, though, I could hear Spanish chatter from the newscaster, but I couldn't help notice what was becoming known as "The Chicago Rape" replays being shown over and over again. The sole employee, some skinny dude with a junior college sweatshirt, was watching with the same rapt glazed stare that the rest of America was using-a drop in a perverted voyeur ocean. The incomprehensible words rolled over me while I dripped on the floor, trying to see what 2-for-1 specials they had in menthol.

"Get me that two pack of Marlboro Smooths," I finally said. In my head, I could almost hear a wet popping noise while he reluctantly peeled his eyes from the screen, like two horny sucker darts. He didn't say anything to me, just got me my cigarettes, accepted a couple of rolled up bills as payment, and went back to the free Reality Porn.

It was a quarter to five, and I had already stopped caring about her.

Perhaps in a vain hope that the rain would let up, or perhaps out of a sheer morbid boredom, I tried to strike up a friendly conversation about the riots with the clerk. He tried the old 'No habla ingles' gambit, but I had seen him before and I wasn't buying it. As far as I could tell, his name was Cristobol, and he had no fucking idea how long the crisis was going to last, but if any "cabrones" came to loot his store, he'd fuck them with machetes. Good man. I approve of a solid American work ethic.

Before I left, I checked out the pricing on chips and bottled water. Through the roof, even accounting for the usual bodega markup, but better than those starving bastards in Chicago were doing. Bemused by the irony, I went back and got a couple of twinkies and a soda before I left. Stuffing them down in an inner pocket with my cigarettes so they wouldn't get wet, I wondered who I could get to sleep with me at 5 in the morning. The late hour was a problem, but I still had six or seven grams of white working in my favor.

It took me longer than I expected-I can't text in the rain.

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