Shot of Red-Eye

I used to hold my social security card
up in the air,
he told me,
but I was so small
they couldn't see it,
all those big
guys around.

you mean the place with the
big green screen?
I asked.

Yeah. well, anyhow, I finally got on
the other day
picking tomatoes, and Jesus Christ,
I couldn't get anywhere
it was too hot, too hot
and I couldn't get anything in my sack
so I layed under the truck
in the shade and drank
wine. I didn't make a
dime.

have a drink, I said.

sure, he said.

2 big women came in and
I mean BIG
and they sat next to
us.

shot of red-eye, one of them
said to the bartender.

Likewise, said the other.

they pulled their dresses up
around their hips and
swung their legs.

um, umm. I think I'm going mad, I told
my friend from the tomato fields.

Jesus, he said, Jesus and Mary, I can't
believe what I see.

it's all
there, I said.

you a fighter? the one next to me
asked.

no, I said.

what happened to your
face?

automobile accident on the San Berdo
freeway. some drunk jumped the divider. I was
the drunk.

how old are you, daddy?

old enough to slice the melon, I said,
tapping my cigar ashes into my beer to give me
strength.

can you buy a melon? she asked.

have you ever been chased across the Mojave and
raped?

no, she said.

I pulled out my last 20 and with an old man's
virile abandon ordered
4 drinks.

both girls smiled and pulled their dresses
higher, if possible.

who's your friend? they asked.

this is Lord Chesterfield, I told
them.

pleased to meetcha, they
said.

hello, bitches, he answered.

we walked through the 3rd. street tunnel
to a green hotel, the girls had a
key.

there was one bed and we all got
in. I don't know who got
who.

the next morning my friend and I
were down at the Farm Labor Market
on San Pedro Street
holding up and waving our social
security cards.

they couldn't see
his.

I was the last one on the truck out. a big woman stood
up against me. she smelled like
port wine.

honey, she asked, whatever happened to your
face?

Fair grounds. a dancing bear who
didn't.

bullshit, she said.

maybe so, I said, but get your hand out
from around my
balls, everybody's looking.

when we got to the
fields the sun was
really up
and the world
looked
terrible.

Appears in Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame

©Linda Lee Bukowski - used with permission