My old friend Charley that I’ve known for 20, 25 years stopped me in the street. He said, I’ve got something to tell you. Now, sit down. Right here. That was the steps of the Cafe Zipp in the middle of Macdougal Street. He put his hand on my knee. Then he said, now you listen, this is what happened:


Carter stop by the cafe early. I just done waxing. He said, I believe I’m having company later on. Let me use your place, Charley, hear?

I told him, door is open, go ahead. Man coming for the meter, (why I took the lock off.) I told him Angie, my lodger could be home but he strung out most the time. He don’t even know when someone practicing the horn in the next room. Carter, you got hours and hours. There ain’t no wine there, nothing like it. He said he had some other stuff would keep him on top. That was a joke. Thank you, brother, he said. I told him I believe I have tried anything, but to this day, I like whiskey. If you have whiskey, you drunk, but if you pumped up with drugs, you just crazy. Yeah hear that man, he said. Then his eyeballs start walking away.

He went right to the park. Park is full of little soft, yellow-haired baby chicks. They ain’t but babies. They far from home and you better believe it, they love them big black cats walking around before lunchtime, jutting their apparatus. They think they gonna leap off that to heaven. Maybe so.

Nowadays, the spades around here got it set out for them. When I was young, I put that kettle to cook. I stirred it and stirred it, and these dudes just sucking off the gravy.

Next thing: Carter rested himself on the bench. He look this way and that. His pants is tight. His head making pictures. Along comes this child. She just straggling along. Got her big canvas pocket book and she looking around. Carter hollers out. Hey, sit down, he says. By me, here, you pretty thing. She look sideways. Sits, on the edge.

Where you from, baby? he ask her. Hey, relax, you with friends.

Oh thank you. Oh the midwest, she says. Near Chicago.