512 Words

I Forgot My Sunglasses

M. Stanley Bubien

I ain't old, but I tell you, I've seen some pretty damn screwed up people in my life. Okay. Yeah. For some, it ain't their fault. I remember this kid I saw in Tijuana once. His clothes stinking like piss and I walk past him and it made my eyes water. I figure damn, what're his parents thinkin'? But then I figure that's how things are down there.

So yeah, like I said, some it ain't their fault. But what about the ones that're busy screwing themselves? I got no compassion for that, none at all. And drugs, yeah, those're the worse. Ain't no better way to drive yourself into the ground.

Okay, sure, I ain't the picture of health myself. But I try. I like riding---you know, bikes. Stick to the flat stuff, though---that's my speed. No hills or nothing. Fortunately, I live on the coast. My regular route goes through Encinitas. Not your nicest town, mostly shops and stuff lining the street, but you got your bums and your addicts there too. I try keeping my distance from that, but there's times when they get right in your face.

Sort of like that the other day. Here I am peddling my butt off down a straightaway, and I'm workin' hard just to keep up to the seventeen mph mark, and I'm squinting into the wind because I forgot my sunglasses. Then this car passes me, which is no skin off my back---it's a busy street---but he brakes hard and cranks over to the side of the road about a hundred feet ahead, right in front of a liquor store.

I'm cruisin', not fast, but pretty good, so I kinda steer out of the way to dodge him. But this girl jumps out of the car and into the bike lane. Well, thank God I'd already been movin' into the main part of the street, because I would've hit her dead on.

Right as I get to her, she screams something at me.

"What?" I yell---reflex---and I hear it this time.

"Can you buy me some cigarettes!?"

This all happened in like a second, but I don't even got to think about the answer. I yell, "No! No way!" and fly past. And I swear, there's no way in hell---in hell!---I'm buying cigarettes for this kid. Seven in the morning, and she's needin' her fix! Crap.

Sure, I keep riding, but I look back to frown at her. And there she is, leanin' on the car with some guy dressed in black---probably her boyfriend---trying to put his arm around her. She's squirming, but he's persistent, grabbing her with his free hand and reaching around again. But she elbows him in the side and ducks out from under him, real quick, and jumps onto the sidewalk. She paces there, running her hands through her hair.

Then I say to myself, "Damn!" and I'll tell you why. My eyes, they're watering. I swear the wind's blowing in them 'cause I forgot my sunglasses.

Copyright ©1997 M. Stanley Bubien. All Rights Reserved.

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December, 1997
Issue #20

512 Words