the condor

The day after my 32nd birthday, my double lap dance virginity died. A couple of hours after its funeral, feeling unsatisfied and dry, I left the club and took a walk. “Maybe I’ll take excitement into my own hands and find an ATM on a quiet street and get mugged,” I thought. That could make a good story.

There was only one graveyard street to be found in North Beach. Its only light came from the gigantic blue and white CHASE logo above the ATM. I passed a cluster of people my age, smoking, then no one for a block or two. “She’s pretty,” I heard off in the distance. I hoped it was me they were talking about.

As I walked up to the money box, one homeless man, overripe and underfed, looked up at me and saw a black silhouette against bright blue light. He squinted and took his hand to his brow. I wasn’t a person but the outline of a shawl and floor length skirt.

“You’re a vi-i-i-sion,” he stuttered. “I’m having a vision. Do you want me to wonder about life, Father? Because I do. I wonder every day.”

I don’t mind chatting near ATMs sometimes, but I didn’t want to open my mouth — I would ruin his moment. My choice of fashion and background lighting was turning into a worthwhile memory for him. Maybe some kind of epiphany or reminder of religion.

“I know I hardly ever speak to you, Father…you’ve been dead so long…”

I was too hungry to listen and left to go to the taqueria near Little Darlings. I drifted back towards the hustle of Broadway and Columbus and took my Los Angeles Negros appetite with me to the jukebox.

$1 a song.

I like eating alone. I don’t have to apologize for eating slowly or wonder what to do with my hands. I can use them…without utensils. Drawing faces in refried beans is ok. I don’t have to pretend to be interested in what the other person is saying or maintain ballerina posture. I can slouch and fart and come closer and closer to never finishing what’s on my plate. I eat out a lot for business and this was a welcomed break.

But then he texted and I was no longer alone.

He told me an imaginative story about con-artists and lust. Fernet and happily ever after, with a real life twist; future accidents, money laundering, betrayal — all that good stuff that makes it easy to be interested. I didn’t have to pretend.

*                         *                                  *                                 *                             *

Her moves were simple yet calculated. She dawdled with her routine as if she had more than two songs to accumulate her ones. Her wig was a frosty blonde, stubborn, and stiff. There was no pony sway — it moved like wool. Her rigid joints tried to take a little bit of my life (without success) each time they moved, so my energy lingered in the air between my seat and the stage. Babies in the womb have better gyrations and no doubt better skills at energy zapping.

She read my mind and lowered herself to me for further persuasion. “I. LIKE. YOUR. BODY.” She carried her factual boobs in her hands and moved them up and down. This is where I was supposed to give her a dollar but I didn’t have one. She miscalculated my interest in asses and turned around to show me hers. It arrived on time. This is where I was supposed to give her another dollar, but I didn’t have one the first time.

The dance was endless and stifling.

Showing some good sense, the song ended.

I don’t write about death much.

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