I buy my cigarettes at the liquor store by the Library; they are cheaper, by about a buck then any place in town.
There is a guy who works there, probably late 20’s who is full of frat boy, sarcastic humor. I overheard him telling someone he was a University of Arizona graduate, and he still follows the basketball team. Anyway I order a pack of Maroon American Spirits.
He says, “Oh you want to get organic cancer,” which I thought was pretty funny. I said, “I bet most of your customer’s thank you for whipping them.”
Speaking of masochists. I don’t know if you remember David; he is a Street Roots vendor I wrote about briefly last fall with his black, green, blue and brown completely swollen shut eye. He has many stories of rough times; sideways snow in Wyoming and falling into a Colorado creek in the dead of winter, to name a couple.
He is a big whiskey drinker and has to be half sauced before breaking out his guitar, but he has a pleasant rough voice and knows quite a few straight up rock standards. Plus he has made it into his 50’s without gaining a pound; how is that done?
Well his toughness is breaking down a little bit. We had three days of hard rain and on the third he just couldn’t take it, and hung out at Street Roots as long as they let him. He still isn’t given himself much permission to take it easy, but when he has a really bad idea, he usually runs it by me so I can tell him no.
Anyway one day just as it was getting cold here in Portland, he says, “I think I am going to take off for Colorado.” I said, “Are you out of your fucking mind man, winter is coming on.” He hasn’t mentioned it since. Yesterday his hand was so swollen and fucked up looking; he could barely move it, so he kind of stumbles over my way so I can take a look. I say, “are you out of your fucking mind get that thing looked at.”
That caught a couple of people’s attention and we finally convinced him to see a doctor. The sores were getting these pure white deep puss heads, and he was actually popping them. ” I almost piss my pants from the pain, when they go,” he said.
David has a heart of gold and is one of my favorite characters, he tries to hide his kindness behind a rough exterior, but that is impossible. Spend ten minutes with him and he will have your back forever and give you the shirt off his back any time you are in need of one.
Sign up to get alerts from Joe!