Lunch time arrives and I am walking through downtown heading for Rodger’s Barbeque. I stop at the red light and push the button to activate the crossing signs. I wait and wait and finally become a jaywalker when I realize the “Walk” light coming on is a lost cause. Luckily, the traffic is light and I don’t have to dodge cars as I run across the intersection.
I walk across the river to the heavy smell of fish wafting up from those turgid waters. I stop and look the several hundred yards down to the green and swirling river. A lone seagull sits on a rock amidst the current. I reach for my camera to take a picture and realize I had once again left it at home.
I arrive at Rodger’s and take a seat. An old friend of my father’s walks over to talk to speak to me.
“Hey Andrew. Good to see you,” He says as he shakes my hand.
I stand up to tell him hello and that I am also glad to see him as well.
“So, where are you working these days?” He asks as is usual for people to do.
“I am on disability these days,” I reply.
“Well, I am sorry to hear that,” He replies looking uncomfortable.
We say goodbye and he goes back to his wife and his meal.
I look at the menu for a few moments trying to decide what to eat. I have $39 dollars left on my tab from the other day. I decide on a bowl of vegetable soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. The waitress walks up to take my order and writes it down.
“Get me an order of those cream cheese filled jalapeno peppers as well,” I tell her as she leaves me to disappear into the kitchen.
Moments later, my meal is brought out and I sit and eat. The food was delicious and that hot vegetable soup hits the spot on this chilly January day. I place a two dollar tip on the table and then head for home with a full stomach.
As I walk, the batteries in my little Sony radio get weaker and weaker and soon the station I am listening to fades. I make a detour towards the shopping center and the dollar store to buy some more batteries. I arrive at the shopping center to find George sitting outside in his running car. Blue smoke belches from the exhaust pipe. I haven’t seen George in weeks. He motions for me to come over to speak to him.
“What’s up my brotha!!!” He exclaims as I walk up to his open window on the passenger’s side.
A can of Milwaukee’s Best Ice is nestled in between his legs and a Garcia Vega cigar is dangling from his mouth.
“Come on in and sit down in my office,” He says as he smiles.
I open the door as it creaks loudly and sit down. Gospel music is blaring on the radio. The bluish smoke of George’s cigar is swirling around inside like a foggy haze of smog.
“Where have you been man?” I ask. “I thought you were back in jail.”
“Been making money,” George replied with a grin. “Two little ladies are in the grocery store now and I will take them home for twenty dollars.”
George offers me a beer and I wave it off.
“One beer ain’t gonna hurt you,” He says as he scoffs.
“I can’t drink just one though,” I reply. “If I drink one then I will drink twenty.”
George offers me a cigar and I light it up enjoying it to the fullest. We talk for quite awhile until George’s “customers” come back out with two buggies full of groceries ready to be carried home.
“How ‘bout I come over this weekend and let’s drink some beer and eat some pizza,” George says.
“I can have the pizza, but not the beer,” I reply.
“We’ll see,” George says as he grins mischievously.
I left George mulling over having a beer as I went inside to buy my batteries. It sure would have been nice to hang out with George like old times and have a few beers and cigars. I shook my head trying to get those thoughts out of my mind. Luckily, I have an AA meeting to attend tonight and maybe that can get rid of this stinkin’ thinkin’ as they say in AA.