I rang Jason's bell next to his front door. I hoped he wasn't still sleeping. There were Saturday mornings
in the past where I was across the street doing laundry
and he'd be sitting on his front steps, recuperating
from Friday's late night out.
Jason and I used to run in the same social circle but
even back then, we were never good friends. His apartment was one of the apartments I was looking at when I was moving out of the Quarter, but he beat me to it. Even though we were never good friends, I gave him a spare A/C window unit I had when he got this place. I gave him an Andre the Giant has a Posse poster for his birthday last year that he really liked. A sticker by the same artist stands out in a bright orange on the right rear corner of his maroon van's back windshield.
I couldn't tell if I had awakened him, since his place seemed to be at ease in darkness. He apologized for the mess his place was in, clothes strewn about, his guitar against a chair with an empty beer bottle on the floor next to it. Every corner of his living room could have been an album cover or one of those snapshots that tells a lot about a person. I remembered him being a much tidier person when I knew him.
Jason has the arms of a man but the chest of a boy. His arms are dark from the sun and his Mexican background and have dark hair on them, but his chest, though etched with tattoos of old school sparrows below his shoulders, is rattled and hairless. He comes from me out of the shadows, out from the cold my A/C unit has created for him.
"Oh, hi." Jason always says that when he sees me, in half surprise and half anctipation. It is this lift in his greetings that always led me to think that he thought more of me than he let on. It's no surpise that I used to have a crush on him.
"You wouldn't happen to have a Slim Jim, would you?" I had just locked my keys in my car this morning and he was the last person I wanted to bother, but I was running out of ideas.
"You don't have AAA?"
"No. Can I use your phone?"
He must have apologized for the mess three times while I was there making use of the phone book, while he was pulling a red cabana shirt over his wifebeater and fumbling for change off his dresser. His place was in enough of an advanced state of disorder that it looked to me that the only company he has had lately have been those few good male friends into which he has lost himself.
He locked the door behind him when he let me out. I asked him where he was going and he nodded in the direction of his van and said, "Nowhere." He reached down to turn the trashcan right side up; the garbage men just fling them as they go.
As I watched him walk away, I thought to myself I've sat up talking to this guy for hours in coffee shops. I've read his poetry and he read mine. I know this doesn't always constitute knowing someone well, but it did make me feel that I lost something just then. I lost someone I thought I knew once.