in Friends

Angel of darkness is upon you

Last night at the Office Bar, although the karaoke was loud and fun, there was a muted quality to the party, a sense that we were all out past our bedtimes.

Around one a.m. the wife and I left the bar. Keite was in the parking lot, shuffling nervously in her pink leather tube top. She held a plastic bottle of water out to the guy sprawled on the sidewalk.

“Come on, Joe,” she said. “Drink some water.”

Joe made a sound and turned his head. His face rasped on the sidewalk.

“Your friend?” I asked.

“Not really,” she said. A runnel of something dark — spit? blood? urine? — drifted from Joe into the gutter.

“He’s had booze and something else,” said Keite. “Maybe pot, maybe something else. Joe?”

Joe said, “Yshsgs.”

“Joe, I want you to drink this water.” Keite placed the bottle of water squarely on the sidewalk. Joe made no move for the water.

“The guy I came with,” said Keite to us, “left without me. I invited him here tonight, and I think he got tired of waiting for me. I’ll find a ride home,” she said. And her tired eyes brimmed with tears.

I thought of Gilman Street and gutter punks and three-chord rock and I idly wondered how many times Keite had practiced this scene. Random assholes and the women who take pity on them.

“Let’s give you a ride,” my wife said.

“No,” Keite said. “I’ll find a ride.”

We left without her. There are two kinds of people: people who pass out on the sidewalk, and people who take care of them.

I’m neither kind.

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