Sunday, November 29, 2009

Griffin and Pacific

"You wanna sell me some Vicadin?"

"Excuse me?"

I turn around and see a middle aged guy at the curb. I had seen him in my periphery walking towards me as the light changed but I was heading towards the donut shop and really didn't wanna be bothered by complete strangers. Like, ever. Even when I need to know the time, I don't wanna start a conversation I just wanna know the time. I especially don't wanna be bothered by anyone wanting me to sell them drugs. I'm now about four limping steps off the curb aka in the middle of one of the busiest streets of downtown Dallas. Fortunately, this ain't rush hour. It's about nine pm in the evening on a Saturday night.

"You use a cane. That tells me you got Vicadin."

I glanced down and back up, "sorry to disappoint but I just use OTCs. I'm not Dr. House." I continue walking with a nervous laugh. The light of the white walking stick figure just turned into the blinking red hand gesture saying people without canes should start running and people with canes should prepare to be run over by a bus.

I don't really need the cane anymore, but it helps on the longer walks when I'm out of breath to help me keep going. Like an extra leg. Both my ankles are still tender from the beating I've been giving them the past several months. I sprained my right ankle and pulled a muscle or two on the lower left leg. Been nursing them back to health the past several weeks. Also, the cane scares off would be attacking dogs in my neighborhood. I don't really need the cane, but it's become a thing of comfort. I kinda like having it around.

"Of course you ain't Dr. House he's a fictional fucking character." His response sounds like it was intended to be good natured, but there's also a frustration in his voice. Methinks he might have just run out of Vicadin himself, tho he has no cane.

I'm trying to be good natured about this too, but the guy's now following me down the crosswalk, in much the same way I recall myself in my youth following the occasional beautiful woman who just tried nicely to reject me, and is about to meanly tell me to bug off.

At my regular limping pace I continue making my way to the other side of the street. I see him in my periphery on my left. He's half following me, but obviously he's heading towards the liquor store while I'm still aiming for the donut shop. My beer is already in my backpack. I bought it at the last bus stop so I wouldn't have to visit both the beer store and the donut shop here while waiting for the next bus. In hindsight this was a good thing because I do not think I woulda wanted to continue the small talk that follows with this stranger as we both shared a liquor store.

"Besides, " I add for no apparent reason other than small talk as the two of us begin to gravitate away from one another like celestial bodies on different orbital trajectories, "my problem's just my ankles. House is missing a thigh muscle."

"Yeah but House doesn't make his own prescriptions for Vicadin."

"He did in season three."

He glances away and shrugs. I laugh to myself. As I enter the donut shop I find myself marveling at what a weird exchange that was with a complete stranger. Even if I could get Vicadin I wouldn't sell it on the streets of Dallas. The place is crawling with cops. It was rather silly of that guy to go up to complete strangers and try to buy a fix. Guess he was desperate.

I'm kind of torn with the new direction my life seems to have taken as of late. I can't remember being without a car after college. It had become something I just took for granted was always there. I've always heard the phrase "driving is a privilege and not a right" but only this year have I been forced with the sobering reality of what that phrase means. I'm forced to agree Thomas Jefferson didn't include "car" in the definition of "pursuit of happiness." However, I swear if he were alive today a ride in a Lamborghini would make him add an amendment to the Constitution. Finances and other pressing matters have made me still having a car an impossibility, so now I function at the whimsy of public transportation, and Dallas Area RAPID Transit is poorly labeled.

Still, I am forced to interact with complete strangers that for the past twenty years or so I've been able to instead just drive past and never acknowledge. I'm sure this is good for my psyche or something. I no longer believe in souls, so I know it's not any good for that. Maybe someday I'll meet enough people and have "real life experiences" that I can then write about and turn into a book and make millions of dollars. Until then, it's sixty-five dollars for a monthly bus pass. I'm still waiting for the December card to show up in my mail.

After I was done in the donut shop (apple fritters and chocolate milk rule) I'm heading towards the bus stop and another complete stranger turns to me with pamphlets in his hand. I glance down and see the word "HELL" in big red letters and that's all I need to know.

"Would you like one?" He asks with a toothy grin and big doll-like eyes that make me think Stepford Wives all the sudden.

I muster up the most compassionate and pitiful face I can muster which probably came off more as just tired. I also fought the urge to roll my eyes at him. "There is no god," I said as simply and matter of factly as I could.

"Of course there is!"

"I'm sorry. I checked. He ain't there."

"Prove to me there's no god," he says with this false bravado I hear echoed in the back of my mind as memories of me twenty years ago, which chills me to the bone. Or was that the November wind that gusted up from between skyscrapers? I'll blame the wind.

"See that's the thing," I said with less false but more pompous bravado, "I don't have to prove a thing. I no longer believe." I pointed at him with the hand holding my bag of donuts, since the other hand was holding my cane, which was holding up the rest of me. "It is incumbent on the believer to prove there is a god."

"I can give you five reasons-" Oh this one's been coached. He can count the reasons he knows off the top of his head.

I decided to cut him off at the pass. "Anecdotal evidence doesn't count," I said flatly.

He went to say something but it got stuck in his Adam's apple. I turned away and continued down my path having left him silent and frozen on his own.

Several minutes later I'm sitting at the bus stop and that same dude who wanted Vicadin walks up to the bus stop and announces loudly to the handful of us that are all busy trying to ignore each other, "ROSA PARKS everybody! Let's give a hand to Rosa Parks! Let's give it up for Rosa Parks everybody." He's clapping his hands loudly and a couple others join in. I just look at the back of his head and he continues walking past us and against the light. No traffic this late so there's little danger of him getting run over, but I chuckle to myself as I see a policeman carefully following the guy about twenty paces behind him. They both saunter on into the night. I'm sure that guy's story is much more interesting than mine, but this ain't his blog, so you're stuck with me.

I'm a maniacal cane-wielding ex-Christian with a bag of donuts, a backpack of beer, and a monthly bus pass. I take off my hat when I pass Rosa Parks in honor of what she represents to me, but I don't applaud her cuz she's a fucking statue. I lord over the intersection of Griffin and Pacific and all the West End. You may never see me, but that doesn't mean I'm not there. I'll take away your gods and make you pray for Vicadin. Don't cross me.

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