Thursday, July 13, 2006

Old School Angles


I think the cats down at my corner bodega are running numbers. I’m pretty sure of it actually, but I aint got no proof.

They always have fools milling around in the back, behind the dusty cans of cat food and generic brand dish soap. I see them, these old codgers, sitting on stiff table chairs around a fold out card table, growling in Spanish, cursing at a television, or maybe each other. Sometimes I can’t tell. They come out to the front every now and then, to buy another beer or maybe bullshit with the wife of the couple that owns the place. Their clothes are always dirty, thier hands bruised and caloused, like they’ve been working all day on the docks or in the yard. And they treat the place like it’s not a bodega, but a bar, where they can drown their past in alcohol and get some friendly advice in the process.

Sometimes they stand right in front of the counter, yapping like they’re on some kind of fucking stage, holding up the line while I pace with my feet, desperate to get my beer and bounce. I can never understand what they say, because mostly its in Spanish and I flunked Spanish not once, but twice, in high school. But the conversation never seems to be anything more than casual. I imagine they talk about their families, their friends. Who’s had a baby and who died. If TV on the Radio should have chose a different name for their album. If subway sandwiches really are lower in fat. I don’t know what they are saying, but I can’t imagine it is anything more important than what I say to my friends. Still, I could be wrong, they could be figuring it all out right under my nose.

I walked in tonight at my usual time for my usual purchase cause I got my usual flow going, and as soon as I stepped in the door the wife flashed her grin and one of the cats, some old coot at the counter with cheeks burning red under a thick, uneven white beard, stopped talking and looked at me, then looked up at the TV. It was playing Americas Wildest Police Chases.

What’s up papi?

Nada mucho ma.

I went to the beer case, slid it open, and copped my bottles like I had rehearsed the move all day. In the back I peeped two dudes sitting at the table. Another one came out and walked to the counter, screaming an order for a steak sandwich with no onions.

And slap some extra cheese on that sucka, and some hot sauce! Lotsa hot sauce!

I gotchu papi. You want peppers?

He didn’t answer, just went straight to the back. She waved her hand in dismissal. I looked up at the TV and a motorcycle went headfirst into the side of an 18-wheeler truck. The driver slides about 30 feet and slams into a signpost. “I guess that’s the last time this clown is going to take his act on the road,” the announcer says in that condescending tone. I let out a hiss. What a douche bag that announcer is.

She bags up the brew and I hand her a few bills. The old fool is still standing to the side of the counter; he hasn’t looked at me once, just stared at the television. The wife hands me my change and eyes the lurking coot impatiently. He hands her a folded piece of paper, on one side, the top side i can see, are two long collumns of numbers. She scans the page quickly then nods her head and slips the paper somewhere behind the cash register. The old fool walks off, toward the back. I start making my way out.

You should get yourself a sandwich sometime. They good!

She cackles and her huge tits shake in harmony. I smile back at her.

Maybe I will ma, keep em hot for me.

*************************************************
Where are they now? Jag & Redd|Egg & Style & especially Zaida. Its like they have fallen off the face of the earth. Another mystery. Cest la vie. While we are mourn their absense lets have some fun eh? Anybody up for a little Hard Gay? if not, then I have the goldmine just for you, an archive of 80's videos. So Whip it!

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:gray matters: by jkg is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at downtownalleys.blogspot.com.