Have you ever been walking down the street, minding your own business, in a hurry to get wherever you’re going, maybe to an appointment with your tax man, or maybe just to meet an old friend for coffee, when you happen to meet one of those people’s eyes? Homeless people, or as my old man’d called them–bums. And did you ever get the feeling that until you looked at them, met their eyes, they didn’t truly exist? As people, that is. Kind of like window dressing. Or a street light. There but not there.
Last night I looked. And now I can’t sleep, can’t eat, can’t do nothing but think about those eyes.
I’d come out of Delmonico’s feeling fine, belly full of prime rib, a good-looking woman on my arm, and the night still young. All through dinner Veronica’d been playing footsie under the table and batting those mile-long eyelashes at me. I’d known what dessert was going to be, and it was going to be good.
Leroy knew he was dead, dead as a frickin’ sail-cat. Why, his busted up body lay right there with the whole top of his head caved in, blood and gray stuff smearing the trunk of a big old oak. No way a body could still be breathing after taking a hit like that.
But the peculiar thing was that he could see himself. And his black Thunderbird. She wasn’t the waxed and buffed beauty he’d slid in outside Dale’s Hideout; she now rested belly-up twixt him and the highway, as banged up as he was. His pride and joy. How long had it taken him and Betty to make her purr like a kitten and look as pretty as a shiny new dollar? Three years? Four?
If he’d had lips to do it with, Leroy would’ve smiled right then and there as he recalled the countless nights him and Betty had spent out in the old shed after they’d both gotten off work, him with his head under the hood and Betty handing him tools. Him telling her about the dumb shit the guys at work had done and laughing about it, and her smiling that funny little smile of hers. Continue reading