Hungry for something
I don’t get excited about sunlight any more, even when it warms me while I walk along the street.
But sometimes, it improves my mood.
Maybe I don’t get excited about much these days, roaming from place to place, “bumming around,” as my old man liked to call it, though his idea of “real living” killed him at 62 with his fourth heart attack.
Maybe he’s the reason I decided young not to push myself into anything too serious, never strain myself over anything that’s gonna kill me young like that.
Even the blare of the fire trucks rushing by me doesn’t make me jump.
Though I do admit the cabbies scare me from time to time, their high speed race through the streets making me wonder if the can stop in time so I can get across the street without their killing me.
I see other people getting their hair up, even today, on Easter morning, shouting for this or that along both sides of Broadway, their voices bounding off the brick of upper east side’s buildings like reckless ghosts.
Wiggy, the half ton dump truck of a man who works the loading dock with me in Jersey, rumbles beside me along the sidewalk, his turret head turning this way and that in his perpetual hunt for girls and food.
He doesn’t care which he gets as long as he gets one or the other, and he could care less that this is Easter and we’ve been wandering the city since the clubs closed in order to get sober before we try the drive back over the George Washington Bridge.
People on the street look at us weird, as if we are muggers or worse – Jersey Boys – and step out of our way like they might a rock slide, knowing they are much safer behind us than anywhere within our sight.
I guess maybe I’m hungry, too.
Just not in the way Wiggy is.
I keep thinking about the redhead at the club who gave me a look that made me steam right down to the soles of my shoes, and how bad I felt when she took off with the crew cutted-high school football hero – her laughing gaze staring back at me her whole way to the door.
As if she wanted me to do something to try and take her away.
Perhaps I could have thrown the jock under Wiggie’s wheels, but he was drooling from too many Kamikazes at the bar and arguing with the bartender not to cut him off.
Besides, Wiggy doesn’t fight anybody’s fights from his own, especially if he doesn’t get to eat something or fuck something at the end of it all.
He glares back at the people on the street, daring any of them to say anything, and they wither away like smoke.
Then we see the store and stumble in, one of those too narrow little street side roll and coffee places that has Wiggy scraping the wall and counter on his way in, with me grateful they serve coffee in paper cups and not porcelain or china.
An Indian man with a face as blank as a turned-off flat screen TV asks what we want. I keep it simple, gathering my coffee and roll while Wiggy still orders, telling him I’ll be outside on a park bench waiting, he grunts as I leave.
I keep thinking I’m hungry. But the roll and coffee do nothing to relieve it.
I keep seeing the red head’s performance over and over in my head, wondering what if I had tried to stop her, what if she went home with me instead, what if disaster was more than one pay check away.
Wiggy shakes me awake and tells me to move over. I make room for him on the bench as he lays out a five course breakfast on the slats between us.
The sun warms my face.
And makes me forget that redhead for a while as I watch Wiggy the dump truck feed his face.