Friend, you may well ask me what I’m doing here on this bar stool in an old tavern at three in the afternoon staring down the barrel of a warm beer. It’s about a car, that’s all, just a plain old goddamned car when you get right down to it. Sold it this morning to an illegal alien type of guy. Started out like this: My buddy, Mobley, got me a classic 78 Lincoln with all leather interior, stereo and tape deck. That Mobley’s a heck of a businessman. Runs a body shop up there on 31st. Got the body shop and a lot of other things going. To tell you the truth, and that’s what this conversation is shooting for, the shop’s just a cover. What he’s got himself up there is one of them chop shops, you know, gets a hot car, breaks it down and ships it off to a fence. Ships off dope and stuff too. Says to me a little while back, “Hey, dumb shit, you like this Lincoln?” I do like the Lincoln. Good condition. A long, sleek navy blue town car. I do like it. “Ok, then, you drive it to L.A. and back and it’s yours, “he says. So I drive it to L.A. and follow a map he gives me and park the Lincoln by a police station and spend the night at a flop house. When I get back here, he hands me a clear title and signs it over to me. So I ask him about the chevy I’ve been driving. “hell, I’ll sell it for you,” he says. “Just leave it on the lot, put a sign on it and give me 20%.” I don’t have a place to park two cars so I says, ok hotshot, and he laughs and tweaks my nose. That Mobley’s a hell of a businessman but truly I don’t like him much. The only reason I work for him is that since I got back from Nam I just can’t concentrate much. So I end up working one or two days at some lowlife job and then I get fired for sitting around daydreaming and such. Mobley says, “Hell, it’s that goddamned pony tail. Go out and get a real haircut and get rid of those army duds. You got money. Go out and buy some civilized clothes. That’s why nobody wants to keep you on. You look like a goddamned hippy is what you look like and they’re ain’t no goddamned hippies anymore.” But somehow I feel better in my jungle fatigues and my camouglaged boots. Got use to my pony tail too. Grew it when I got back from DaNang because the sons a bitches were always shaving my goddamned head. Actually, I think Mobley keeps harping on that because he’s getting kind of bald. Bad hair, bad teeth, and bad eyes. Still, working for Mobley, I can work once or twice a week and then just play and go to the library and read. Or lay around my apartment with some honey and listen to the stereo. My second tour is what got me into it, being a no good fucking crook. I was in an infantry company up there around DaNang and I seen a lot and I done a lot. The things I did would make a man with a cast iron stomach puke his socks off. When my year was up, I felt real scared and didn’t know what to do, so I signed up for another thirteen months. The thought of going home made me shake like a man in the electric chair. I’d think about the old neighborhood or my little brother and sister and aunts and uncles and grade school teachers and wonder if they knew about the things I’d done if they’d still look up to me. I got myself assigned to these old lifer sergeants who were running a black market over there and they says, “Hell, Quinn, you already risked your life more than once. And for what? Those bastards in Washington don’t give a rat’s ass about you. Work with us. You deserve better. We’ll send you back a rich man.” So I threw in with them and drove trucks all over Nam. Hell, they’d steal anything. Sold off air conditioners, generators, C-rations, even ammo and weapons. I don’t know who all bought the stuff but I got paid real well. That’s how I got spoiled on a one day work week. I’d make my round trip and then be off to the steam house. Played a lot of poker, drank a lot of beer and fucked a lot of gooks. Had me a new girl every day, sometimes two a day. Liked the Frenchy types: tall, thin, carmel colored. I got sent home alright. Those old NCO’s set me up because Intelligence was getting too close to them. Said they didn’t even know me. Said I must have been AWOL. At least I didn’t have to go to jail permanently. Would have killed myself. Can’t stand to be confined. I get back and run into Mobley at a bar and tell him about my dishonorable discharge and he says, “hell, I’ve got work for you. Lots of work. Can always use a good errand boy.” Been making good money ever since. That chevy I put up for sale was the first thing I went out and bought. A mighty fine car. One hell of an automobile. Four barrel carb. Four on the floor. Double fuel injection. Of course, I just drove that son of a bitch right into the ground. Even General Motors wouldn’t know who its mother was. Me, I don’t work on cars. Too impatient. Can’t concentrate any more. Just want to beat on the damn thing with a wrench. So I got this fine Lincoln from Mobley and I put the chevy up there on Mobley’s lot and asked a thousand for it. “Hell,” he says, “nobody’s going to pay a thousand for that piece of shit.” But I stuck to my price. At least for a few weeks. Then Mobley calls me up. “There’s a messican up here wants to buy it. Desperate. Illegal kinda guy. Has to take his family to Oklahoma so’s they can work in the fields. But he can’t pay no thousand dollars.” Hells, bells, I’ve spent more on it than that. So I tell Mobley just to sit on it and see what else comes along.
Excuse me. I’ll be back in a minute.
Had to answer the call of nature.
Now about the time I put y chevy up for sale, I met a gal up there at the university named Rita. Rita Morales. She had a Mexican name but she didn’t look or talk like no fucking Mexican. Looked European and spoke real smart. She was a sophomore up there and was looking to cut her teeth on a little lust. I was standing up there by the bar at the Raven Raven staring at the capuccino machine and she edges in next to me and asks if I’m a war monger. Hell no, I says, I’m a pacifist. “I see. You’re making an ironic statement,” she says and laughs. Best part of her, that wild, throw back the head laugh. “An anti-establishment pacifist with a pony tail and an earring and military gear. I like that.” She tells me she doesn’t care for those college boys because they don’t know from up and she can tell that I’ve seem some things and I’ve done some things and my eyes tell many sad stories. “Have you read the Kama Sutra,” she asks, and I have really read it so we talk about it over a couple of beers and she says, “You really have read it.” She finds out I’ve read lots of books and even though I don’t look smart or act smart sje decides I’ve got a good handle on things. Me, I like what I see. Tall, short black hair, strong pretty features. Slender, but breasts enough to satisfy me. Don’t pay that much attention to them anyway. Leg and thigh man myself. I end up taking her to my apartment and showing her the Oriental women like it and she just goes bananas. Then, by god, if she doesn’t come back and show me a thing or two. “Last year,” she says, “I got involved with a lesbian, a professor of divinity I met at a lecture. She showed me how to appreciate my body, how to get the most out of my sensuality. It was an entirely beautiful experience. I felt such cosmic release. I came and came with that woman and afterward I would sleep for hours, the most peaceful, most other worldly sleep. My spirit flowed above me into the eternal sweetness that surrounds us all. I could leave this grimey, heartless world for a place removed from all time.” Then once day the woman came unexpectedly to see her in her apartment and she looked like an old hag. “The spell had been broken and I felt dirty and used.” She tried getting it on with other women but couldn’t get a rise until one night at a frat party this guy pulled her into a bedroom, made an opening in a pile of coats, and just fucked the living shit out of her right there on the spot. “I decided I really wasn’t a lesbian just a woman who’d been allowed to discover herself.” That was the only bad thing about Rita. Sometime she’d be laying there with me listening to the stereo and get all stirred up about something, stupid shit, apartheid, women’s rights, poverty, abortion, and yak for hours. Once she got started I knew I wasn’t going to get any so I’d just lay back with my beer and watch her mouth rotate. I don’t know how anybody could talk so damn much. Looked like her mouth was a high speed engine that ran on its own power and the drive shaft that connected it to her brain had busted. I was careful not to bring up any serious topics unless I was too drunk and didn’t care. And don’t argue with Rita either. She gets mean and starts stabbing her finger at you. Have the impulse to bite it off but when I get crossways I just say, All righta, Rita. Whatever you say, babe. “Oh fuck you, Quinn,” she’ll say and smile and know she got her nose out of joint. But what the hell. I didn’t have aorta or intestines enough to tell Rita she didn’t know shit from shinola. She’d never really had to face up, you know, kill somebody, or nearly be killed, or try to make money. Rita was all theory. She didn’t have to do dirty work, steal, CIA shit, like me. What the hell, Rita, I’d think, you always get to shit in a real toilet. You never got mange or jungle rot or watched your feet melt away. You’re just Third World in a safari clothes ad, a make believe thrift store item. I’d tell her, Hey, Rita, I wasn’t always a worthless bastard. Example: In high school, I was the guy that befriended the rejects. Take the case of Jon LeDon. A fat kid, real fat. His parents had an investment company. They were fat too, a couple of hogs. We called them The Three Pigs. That kid didn’t even know how to pee right. He’d unzip his pants and hold open both sides of the zipper and then aim his little pecker at the urinal but it was too short he’d wee wee all over his his shorts. All his underwear was yellow around the fly. Took a lot of crap about it. The guys would stand around and cheer while he tried to pee. “Get away,” he would whisper, “Just get away.” After a while I think he just stopped peeing at school. Another kid, Philip Moore, decided he would make a career out of making Jon’s life miserable. The day before the Spring Fair he pulled Jon aside and told him he couldn’t go. “We don’t want no fat kid out there. If I catch you outside, I’ll take those dirty old pants right off of you. I’ll pull them down in front of the girls and give them a look at that little pecker of yours.” The fair was on the football field which was right behind the school. So the poor guy sits by the window all day watching the activity, kids going from booth to booth, girls laughing, someone dragging a teacher to the Olde West Jail. I’d forgotten about More’s threat, and maybe he had too, when I went inside to go to the can and saw Jon sitting there like a buddha, hands folded, quiet. A feeling or two went through me, anger, disgust, sadness. I want to hit him, yes, I wanted to help him too. I wanted him to go outside and stand up to that asshole. But I knew he wouldn’t. He was scared to death that More would haul him to the ground and pull down his britches and call the girls over for a big laugh. So I sat there with him and when I put my arm around his back he began to cry to himself, tears as big as cantalopes, sobs as tiny as peas. We sat there together all afternoon watching the kids playing the games, teasing girls, throwing water balloons, generally playing grabass. Of course, when the other guys came in to take a leak, they took shots at us. “Hey Quinn. Oink. Oink. Come on, Jon. Let’s see your little dick.” That afternoon his parents came to pick him up in their Cadillac and I walked him to the car. As he got in I heard his mother ask him if he’d had fun at the fair and he nodded his head and began to tell them how much fun he’d been having. So I tell Rita these things but that’s a big mistake too because she starts crying and saying things like, “And now look at you. Look at me. Look all around us. Yak, yak, yak….” Ad infinitum. Anyway, that’s Rita for you. Last night I take her to a little bar that has a spiced shrimp special and we sit over in a corner booth and eat a lot of shrimp and drink a lot of beer and make a lot of jokes about fucking. We always like to plan out the sexual blueprint of the evening and then execute. Learned that in the army. I was feeling pretty good about my Lincoln and my fortunes in general when Rita turns blue on me and doesn’t say much and stares up at the ceiling. Hey honey, I says, maybe it’s about time to go to my place and rub a little tummy. But when I say this she starts crying, great big tears that take a long time to get from her eyeballs down to her chin before they drip on the plastic tablecloth. I didn’t say much because I didn’t want that double lipped engine to get revved up but she sobs and says, “….and you know what I just realized is that, aside from fucking which comprises such a short period of one’s life, there’s really nothing, well, nothing real. It’s such a sham. It seems when one comtemplates history there was a time when things were real, good meant good and evil meant evil. Now–now–there’s no such distinction, no definitive scale upon which one can measure one’s life, no ability to judge if all the work and pain will lead to anything other than another day. It’s a long time between fucks and during that time all of that total darkness keeps pressing down, pressing down, and people start wars and they’re mean to each other, they’re boring themselves and they’re boring to others. It seems that when one examines things in an historical perspective there was one a time when the hand of God reached down through the darkness and raised us up into the beautiful light, up from the greed and the pain and the stench of this confining, so confining, place. Now listen to me, Quinn, goddammit. Don’t go to sleep on me. Where is God? Where is Buddha and Jesus and, yes, where is the mighty sword of Mohammed?” Whether she answered these and other questions of great importance to us all, I don’t know. I laid my head on on the table, hearing each of her words reverberate through it but understanding none, and fell asleep.
My throat’s getting real dry. Shove me over one of them cold ones.
Thanks. That’s better. Much better.
Next thing I remember is the jangle of the telephone. I don’t know what happened to Rita. I waqs back at my apartment and must have been dreaming, parachuting down from a high place ad as I got closer to the ground a clanging desperate sound like a fire alarm grew louder and louder. I rolled over and propped up on my elbow, heart opening and closing like tappets on a race car. When I finally realized it was the fone and I wasn’t back in Nam, I yanked it so hard I nearly tore it from the wall. It was Mobley. “Goddammit, Quinn. Get your ass over here. That fucking messican is making me crazy. Says he’s got to have your chevy pronto. Has five hunnard bucks. I’d say, take it. Just get the silly bastard outta here. Can’t get no work done.” Ok, Ok, I says, let me catch a quick shower and battle the midnight mung and I’ll be right there. I sure felt cranky, real cranky. I like to sleep late and I hate to be hustled out of the sack. Reminds me too much of the goddamned army. That’s why I take so many showers. Had to live like a roach over there. Never again. A shower always helps. Out of the womb, like brand new. The mouth too. Clean and fresh from hole to hole, makes a pure heart and a happy soul, I say. I scrambled a couple of eggs and made some toast and instant coffee. By the time I crawled into my Lincoln and listened to her hum, and by hum I mean so silently it’d put you to sleep, and felt the rush of the air conditioning, I began to feel halfway alive. I wasn’t ready for no radio yet.. Just wanted quiet. Hell, I says to myself, he can have the fucking chevy. Five hundred was way more than it was worth. Lucky if it got him halfway. All kinds of enginge problems. Bad radiator. Probably would break down out there on the highway in hundred degree weather. I started laughing to think about it. Such a dumb bastard. So I pulled into the lot behind Mobley’s body shop and Mobley’s pacing and puffing in front of his mangey little office. “Jesus H. Christ, Quinn. We got to get him outta here. Guy’s got sumpin wrong with him. Acts drunk or doped up or sumpin. Guys like that tract attention. He’ll bring the cops in here. Keeps honkin the horn. Bad for bidness.” Ok, Ok, don’t get your bowels in an uproar, I says, I’ll take care of the guy. No need to panic. I parked my Lincoln and headed over to the chevy. This little wormy looking guy was in the front seat on the driver’s side with the door open, one leg dangling between the door and the seat. Maybe he was my age and looked old and maybe just old and could barely walk. That we don’t know. Half his teeth were gone and the skin on his face was scarred, maybe from zits or maybe he’d been in a fire. But here was a real greasy, dirty little twerp, all beat up, ugly, a fucked up kinda guy. Smelt like a mixture of burritos and B.O. Friend, I says, hear you want to purchase this fine automobile. He sort of smiled and showed his black and yellow teeth. Got the money? “uh huh,” he says, pointing to his pocket. Well, I says, we got to go down to the bank and sign over the title and get it notorized. So’s the pigs don’t try to take it away from you and ship you back across the river. “Si,” he says, smiling, “the peegs.” I motion him over to my Lincoln and when he gets in, he sits very still, hands on his knees, like he was in a church. We get to the bank and one of these marshmellow ass banking types pops up from his desk with a surprised look on his face, like Billy the Kid and Pancho Villa had just crashed through the front door. If I hadn’t needed the little weenie, I’d have pimped him about the wing-tipped shoes, his Calvin Coolidge suit, and his MBA haircut. One of those chickenshit brainless turds that can’t do much else but sit behind a desk at a bank, kissing the ass of the rich and kicking the bum of the poor. Need a notary, I says, got us a car to sell. I’d sell it to you if you had any money, I threw in, and his pinhead did a minor iggle. I looked over at the little guy — maybe he was a pigmy from the Andes — and gave him a big used car salesman smile and he stared down at his feet. “This way,” the gutless wonder says, and sits down in front of his desk right there in the lobby. I start to fill out the blank on the back of the title and then look up at Mr. Banker and say, We’ve got to see some money first. The little guy doesn’t move so I turn to him and repeat, Money, pesos. He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a wad of smashed up bills and lays them on the desk. I count them out only get three hundred forty-nine. We’re talking here about a five hundred dollar deal, I says, and hold up five fingers. Five hundred U.S. dollars. He just mumbles around ad makes a strange noise, “Umma, umma, umma.” Five hundred dollars, I says, looking laser beams into his eyes, making major mouth movements, like talking to a deaf guy. He sits there and stares at his feet, ashamed looking. Then he reaches back into his other pocket, pulls out two fifties and checks out my reaction from beneath his eyebrows. By my count that’s only four forty-nine, I says, I need ne another fifty-one here. Banker boy starts to say something through his asshole shaped mouth but I stick up a hand and snort, Just hold on there, Mr. J. P. Morgan, I’ll take care of this. Feeftee-won dollars, I tell the little guy but all I get is, “Umma, umma, umma.” My used car salesman smile begins to get a little ragged and I notice the bank guard is edging in our direction. I lean over to the Mexican real close and whisper, Look here, you motherfucker. When I was in Nam, I used to castrate little brown people like you. I squeezed his shoulder hard enough that his head popped upright. I ain’t fucking with you, I continued, you said five hundred, you’ll pay five hundred. You’ll pay it now. Mr. Banker begins to make a few pitiful noises and I say, I’ll take care of this. Back in a minute, Bud. Then, another thought occurred to me. By the way, I ask, how much for the notary? “Five dollars,” banker boy sniffs back. So I hauls the Mexican outside, drag him around the corner and slam his ass against the marble column. I wait for his knife but he doesn’t show it. You little son of a bitch, sneaky little bastard, I’m yelling. You cough up that money or your ass is grass. Got me out of bed. Making me look bad at the bank. “Please, sir. My family. I need for food. I need for gas.” I lift him up off the ground and hiss at him through my teeth, I don’t give a rat’s ass about your shit. How do I know you even got a family? How do I know you ain’t just another pot head? Clever little bastard, right? Just want to snort coke all day at my expense. Think people will feel sorry for you. Well, listen up, motherfucker. You just ran into a fucking freight train going a hundred miles an hour. I’ll tell you this right here and now. I’m going to break each and every rib in your chest and all those rotten lying teeth to boot. Unless you cough up five-oh-five. Five hundred for the car and five for the notary. Got that straight? Comprende? I sat that mother down on the sidewalk and he stares at his feet and gumbles around, “Umma, umma, umma.” He reaches into his pocket pulls out another clump of tangled bills, squats down and unravels each one until he’s built himself a neat pile. I’m standing there ready to kill the son of a bitch. I want to smash his goddamn head against the marble column until his brains pop out. But I ain’t going to jail over no fucking Mexican. No way. Would have taken his money and run and forgotten the notary but I didn’t want that car in my name. He stops unfolding the bills and I count them out. Ok, you cheating little bastard, I says, let’s go in ad finish this deal. My head’s still pounding from the night before and I’m really sweating. Back inside Mr. Dumb Fuck is still sitting there playing with his pencils. So I sign over the title and a stick woman with glasses carries over her notary instrument like a turd and we get the deal done. Walk back, idiot, I says, getting up and stomping out of the bank. The Mexican sat there, staring at his shoes. Boy, am I glad to get back to the Lincoln. I turn on the air, the radio, light up a joint. That engine’s so sweet you just can’t hear a thing and then you give it the juice and it slides out ike gin going down the esophagus. Once I get calmed down, I move out of there fast and just start driving around. Down Main Street. Nothing but fast food joints, bars, car dealers, banks, carpet stores. Mobley’s bad but hell these people make Mobley look like Robin Hood. All these law-abiding citizens, meaning your ordinary, lying, cheating, mean spirited U.S of A. fuckheads, Rotary Club, Chamber of Commerce, Order of the Moose, goose, roach and rat faced liar- Just a little more subtle than Mobley, that’s all. Off to one side I spot a Deli Delight and begin to feel some food deprivation. I pick up a huge submarine and ask the little honey behind the counter for lots of produce, meaning pickle, onion, shredded lettuce, thinly sliced tomato, lots of ham and beef and hot mustard. Need a Big Cold Drink to water it down. Back in my Lincoln I take a sip of the Big Cold Drink and decide I need a better spot for lunch. So I keep on driving up one street and down the other, under trees and overpasses, past bums rolling stogies and mamas tooling their babies down the sidewalk, and before I know it I’m on the freeway. Takes a long while any more to get out of the city eventually I see a barn or two sagging against the horizon, pastures rough with wheat, meadow grass crossing the ragged lines of hedgerows and, of course, the sky. That’s your basic Kansas look. So I turn offonto some narrow asphalt roads and then onto black tar paths and then to gravel that’s been ground to dust. It’s such a nice day, you know, not too hot, not too cool, so I open the windows to feel the breeze. My blood pressure is going down and I’m feeling the real swell. I can hear a red winged black bird. I can smell hay. The gravel takes a big curve and forms a spot off to my right where I can park under a grove of trees: sycamore, elm and oak. I park the Lincoln, sit myself down between the roots of a sycamore and suck another joint. I crunch through the lettuce and onion of the submarine into the thick bread and meat, eating slowly, and remember my boyhood. Used to come to places lilke this. With mom and dad. Halfway to my uncle’s farm, they’d find a place off the highway to have lunch. Bologna, mayonnaise, white bread, apples, Dry, crackling grass. Mom in a summer dress made from a pattern from the dime store. Knees up to her chin, reaching over to pour the kool aide. I finish my Big Cold Drink. Feels like Nam on a slow day. Can even smell a farmyard. Some guys were afraid over there. Not me. It was like a great big hunt. I’d come in from one search and destroy mission and volunteer to go right out on another one. Then I got to thinking about the little guy. Ah, what the hell, I think, that little son of a bitch was probably loaded. I’ve seen it time and time again. Con man. Acts poor. Cries a little. Tries to make you feel sorry. Well, I’ve been screwed before and it ain’t going to happen again. I lay back and the joint is really doing a number on me. Good Columbian stuff. I feel real close to the sky. So blue it rubs against me and I feel smooth, real smooth. You’re ok, Quinn, I tells myself. You’re ok, boy. Nothing’s wrong with you. Just lay here and let the breeze smooth you out. Then I close my eyes and they feel so hot, and I say, What is this shit? So big, so wet, these fucking tears. Oh Quinn, I keep saying, Oh shit, Quinn. What happened to little Jimmy Quinn? Got big, didn’t he? What happened to all that time between little and big? Somewhere in there, between the crack of a baseball bat and the thump of a mortar round, blown away, rubbed out. Riding bikes. Bouncing basketballs. Serving mass. Bringing mom a dandelion bouquet. All that. Gone. I sunk deeper into the spot between the roots of the sycamore and kept saying my name over and over: Jimmy Quinn, Jimmy Quinn, Jimmy Quinn. Must have slept. When I opened my eyes, I saw the sky and thought I was over there again. Felt like the time I got blown out of bed. Got to spend the night at Cu Chi Base Camp. A friend of mine let me use a bunk at his hootch. It was the best bed I had over there. The hootch had a cement floor and a tin roof. It was fortified with sandbags and there was screening to keep out the bugs and let in the breeze. I was having a dream about home. My mom was bringing me a cake that said “Jimmy” on it. She was coming toward me smiling and then the cake exploded and I was laying on the cement floor with a big hunk of nasty looking shrapnel the size of a grapefruit still spinning beside me. Sitting there by the sycamore, I felt like I had been dropped from the sky. It looked neverending, like over there before a typhoon. Clouds had formed like columns of ruins. I began shaking at the thought of a grand cold god that could make me so small. Scared hell out of me, let me tell you. I says, Shit, I got to get out of here. Thought I was going to fall off the face of the earth. My heart started doing double time. I halfway crawled to my Lincoln and hauled myself inside as fast as I could. Locked all the doors and reached under the seat so I could feel the handle of my Forty-Five. Felt a little better then, holding the Forty-Five. Held it like my cock in the middle of the night. Held it like a girl friend’s hand. “That weapon’s going to be your best friend,” the drill sergeant had said. Was he ever right. So I got my nerves on an even keel and I says, Ok, Mr. Lincoln, you freed the slaves, now free me. Got the hell out of there. Back to the freeway and the city. Drove around and drove around. Don’t know how long I drove around. City looked crummy, old, real old. Run down. Fat old women on front porches staring at the trees. Humpbacks and cripples limped along scruffy storefronts. I couldn’t stand to see all that fucking misery. So I drove up here and parked and started hitting the bars, playing the pinball machines, I’d wondered in and out of four or five bars, then– I saw him. Swear to god. Just bigger than shit. At first, I thought, well hell, it’s just an old hippie, or a swami, or another lost soul. His white robes and long brown hair took the wind naturally, like a thick, leafy tree. What got me most was how bright he stood out from the sidewalk and the store fronts and the lampposts, all by himself. He glittered, so much so that I wished I had my sunglasses on. As he came closer I could see he was wearing very expensive sandals, professional stitching, well designed, expensive leather. Probably Italian. He held a constant smile, his beard blowing long and proud and clean. What shook me, shook me real hard, as he advanced in my direction, and that’s why I must seem so nervouse, friend, were his eyes: a cross between brown and blue, reflective, maybe no color at all, but attacking like the eyes of a wild animal charging out of a jungle. They overpowered me, those eyes. They destroyed all my theories, my whole idea about myself, and I felt small and ugly and worthless. I wanted to drop down at his feet and say, O Jesus, I am so sorry, man. Jesus, I am so fucking sorry. But he just kept coming toward me, and when we passed, he turned his head and smiled and held up two fingers that said, “Peace.”