by Mather Schneider
Nick falls asleep at the Cactus Moon. He puts his head down on his chest and passes out sitting up. I call a cabby friend of mine, John, to come pick him up and take him home.
A few minutes later Nick wakes up and stumbles into the bathroom. John walks in while he’s still in the shitter.
“Thanks for coming,” I say to John.
“Which guy is it?” John says. “How fucked up is he?”
“He’s all right,” I say.
“Is he too drunk to remember where he lives?”
Whisperin Ron stands up. Whisperin Ron had an operation, throat cancer, and now talks in a hoarse whisper. He’s a homeless drunk, and looks it. Whisperin Ron and Nick are friends.
“Well, I’ll tell ya,” Whisperin Ron says to John, leaning in real close. “You’re gonna wanna go up Ninth Street here, to Euclid,” he points at the west wall of the bar. “Then, you’re gonna wanna turn right.” He looks at John. “You following me?”
“If you lose me I’ll let you know.”
“Ok,” Whisperin’ Ron says, “then, you’re gonna wanna go down Euclid, one block, and that’s Tenth Street.”
“Right,” John says.
“After that you’re gonna wanna go LEFT on Tenth Street and go two blocks. Two blocks, and that’s it, ok?”
He holds up two fingers in front of John’s face.
“It’s right there on the left,” Whisperin Ron says.
He turns his whole body left and points to the floor.
“The Alamo Apartments.”
“Got it,” John says.
“Right,” John says. “So, you ready to go?”
“Who, me?” Whisperin’ Ron says.
“Not him,” I say, “it’s another guy. He’s in the shitter.”
“That’s a good one,” Ron whisper-laughs, sitting back down at the bar.
Nick stumbles out of the bathroom. After some convincing and a six pack of beer, to-go, Nick agrees to let John give him a ride home. John and I pour him into the cab.
“You owe me,” John points at me before getting in behind the wheel. Then they disappear into the sunlight. Looks like John is burning some oil. I turn back to the bar door, and stand there for a second. It’s already hot at 9 a.m., Jesus Christ.