I feel slightly guilty when I see the older Asian ladies searching. I have put everything from piss to bloody hits I have missed to uncapped syringes in those bottles. I hate to think of myself as catalyst of a new disease. I knew a mother that died that way. She got the Hep C after being stuck by one of her son's needles. He swore he was clean. As she made his bed, she felt the truth sticking her deep into her finger. I wondered what he thought as he stood there at her bedside thirty years later when she died of liver cancer. He still had not gotten clean.
Mornings in San Francisco are the worst time. The moisture in the air makes the streets smell like a mixture of piss and rotten food. San Francisco is known for a few things- good food, cheap drugs, and pussy. I am sitting in the all night doughnut shop watching the hookers walk by. They swear the best time to catch a trick is on his way to work. I would never be out this late. It is still dark outside and no one can hear you scream. At least, no one who cares.
The pimps like to shoot dice up on the corner. They come down from Oakland and Vallejo and pick the girls up before the sun shows their true age. There is a girl in here getting coffee. She isn't even old enough to buy a pack of cigarettes. In the light you can see that under all that make-up she can't be more than sixteen years old. I am not sure any of these men are looking at her face. She is mostly naked in a pair of booty shorts and a half top. I can see the bruise she is trying to cover up on her leg with the wrong color foundation. The customers don't like the merchandise all beat up. One of the girl in the stable must have loaned her some clothes.
As I attempt to gnaw on my bear claw, I feel my stomach start to churn.
"Hey baby- you got a dollar. Can you help me out?" I ask her.
I have no shame.
As she pulls her money out of her bra she tells me "all I got is twenties, sweetie".
This is the worst possible answer.
She pours the cream into her coffee and cover it up as I slide out of my booth. I am in hustler mode now. She is going to give me some money. She just doesn't know it yet.
I smile at her and tell her "well- let me follow you to the counter girl". I grab her coffee for her. Chivalry is not dead.
She gives me that look to let me know she can't and I whisper to her "help me out. I am sick".
As we get to the counter, I know what is about to happen. She gets her change and hands me a $5 dollar bill. That lincoln hits my hand and the satisfaction of a well played con makes a warm sensation fill my body.
I kiss the girl on her cheek as she rushes for the door. I feel for her situation. I haven't been her but I know what she is going through. Yet, I still needed that money. She has spent far too long in here. I hear the clip, clip of her heels as she runs to get into the passenger seat. Her chariot awaits. She may get backhanded for giving me that $5 or she may have learned how to lie. Either way, she will hand him over all the money and probably the coffee too. And it better be just how he likes it.
This is my time to move. My stomach is telling me it really , really is not hungry. The tears start running down my face as I yawn. I see the clouds changing as I pass by the liquor store. Me and the homebum standing out front are in the same position. He can't get what he needs until that door opens at six o'clock. He will be pissing on himself by noon. Right now, he needs this door to open to get rid of the shakes.
I reach toward him. "Hey man- you want the rest of this bearclaw?" I ask.
He paces in places and tells me "No sis, I can't eat. Thank you though."
We all share the same streets at the same time in the same place- The junkie, the drunk, the hooker, the cops, the pimps, and the johns. We are all looking for something but none of us seem to find it. Even when we get what we think we need, there is only that brief feeling of satisfaction until we get the next.
I see the shadows up ahead and know that is flacco up there. Or gordo, or big man or whatever I can them today. I pull out my $45 and add her $5 to mine to make $50. Now I can get a gram. Once I get this sick off of me, I will curl up somewhere like a cat in the hot sun. Maybe I should save the rest of this doughnut. It will taste good until I have to do this same thing all over again.