Tonight when I passed by the alley no one was there, just a rat walking over Spider-Man's bed in the moonlight.
So I walked towards the Two Door.
Saw Face coming back from a liquor store down the block.
He had a 40 and a stack of fastfood cups.
He asked what I was doing. "We finna smash this 40 over by the bus stop, cous, come on."
At the bus stop there was a short fat guy, balding with a ponytail, wearing a huge Bears hoodie.
"Wha's good, Mike," Face said, slapping hands with him. Mike was talking to a guy slumped over on the bus stop bench.
"Speedy," Mike said. "I'm fucking telling you."
Face pointed at the guy on the bus stop bench and said, "This my dude, Speedy. He coo man, but he fucked up tonight. Yizzir."
Speedy was a skinny old man wearing an Army coat, sitting on the bus stop bench with his limp legs and a walking cane.
I sat down next to him.
He had a tiny ponytail tied with a broken rubberband.
Face poured out the 40 into fastfood cups and handed everyone a cup.
"Speedy," I said, smiling at Speedy.
He laughed like, 'Nehehe' with a smile that slowly formed after he started laughing.
Then he started talking to me.
Drunk as fuck, just mumbling shit.
Something about Vietnam.
Something about being on the ground.
Something about running through bullets.
Something about motherfuckers.
Something about the Air Force.
I could only understand 1/3 of what he was saying.
Most of it sounded like, "Fussuh buminna...."
I'd just stare at him and when he stopped every once in a while, I'd say, "Yep."
And he'd say, "N'yep" then start again with the "bussa ummina...."
The Blue Line train passed on a bridge over Fullerton.
Speedy made a gun with his hand and pointed it at the train and moved his hand up and down, his mouth moving.
When the train cleared I could hear him going, "pish pish pish" for each shot.
"Man, Air Force shit is pussy shit," he said. "Air Force is ambush...flying...bombs. Pussy shit."
He kept pronouncing 'pussy' like 'bussy.'
"Air Force is for bussy shit," he said, snot going into his mouth.
Then something about Vietnam again.
Something about bullets.
He leaned forward and rolled up a pant leg, showing me the bullet scars on his calve.
"Z?" he said.
He almost fell forward but I grabbed him.
He tried to spit but it landed all over him.
Mike was pacing—cigarette in one hand, other hand in pocket—smiling at me and Speedy.
He went up to Face and said, "So hey man, I think I'm gonna copy some pornos and sell em out here. Do like, 2 for 10 or something."
Face said, "O'boy down the block already do that shit, but he do 3 for 10."
"Really?" Mike said.
"Fuck," Mike said. He started pacing again. He smiled at me and said, "Fuck"—widening his eyes a little.
Face said, "Ey but for real, we gotta get Speedy dumb-ass a cab, man. He my pops, but he out here all fucked up and he needa get home. I'ont wanna leave him out here when I clean up in this bitch."
Face and Mike vaguely waved to cabs down the block across the street, opposite corner.
I sat there drinking my beer.
There were no cabs on our street.
"I got money," Speedy told me. He was trying to reach into his pockets. "25 dollars an hour," he kept saying. "I make money."
Every once in a while he'd laugh like, "Nehehehe"—with a smile that slowly formed after he started laughing.
With that snake-like wrinkly face.
And that one big tooth in front.
"Doe fuck Korean girls," Speedy said. "Watch out, they gah [something something] in the bussy, nehe."
Face said, "Speedy, where you finna stay tonight? You my pops, but you done tonight, and I got work, so—"
"Stayin at yer place, bussy. Take me'a your place."
Face said, "Uh uh, fuck that. I'on't need you. You ain got no cootie cat." He gestured by his crotch. "Sorry padna, but you ain got no split."
Speedy said, "Ey, fuck you marfucker, nehehe."
I laughed too.
Face put his hands in a prayer gesture. "Speedy, please, shut the fuck up, man. I'm trynna help you and you pissin me off, jo."
Speedy said some shit that no one understood, wiping off his bottom lip slowly with his knuckle.
It looked like he was waiting for our response, but no one said anything.
Then, louder, he said, "Bussy. I'nt some bussy!"
He had his mouth open a little, tongue along his bottom lip.
And that little wormy vein on his temple.
"I'na fuck a bish," he said.
Face laughed like 'hik'ik'ik' and slapped Mike's arm.
Mike was taking a drag of his cigarette—fingers still around it—shaking his head no with his eyes closed.
"I'na fuck a bish," Speedy said. "Some bussy."
On the inside of the bus stop shelter, there was an ad for the Lincoln Park Zoo.
The ad showed stingrays in light-blue water.
Mike pointed at the ad and said, "Ey Speedy, you can fuck one of those."
Speedy was nodding off, chin against his chest and hiccupping at intervals.
I caught him before he fell, resting him against the glass of the bus stop shelter.
Face said, "Come on, man. We gettin you home. Wake the fuck up."
Speedy opened his eyes, a confused look on his face.
Face and I had to pick him up and bring him to the closest main street to hail a cab.
We each grabbed one of Speedy's arms and put it around our shoulders, taking a leg underneath the thigh.
I got some spit on my neck from Speedy's coat and his jeans were all pissed and steamy.
Face and I carried him to a bench on Milwaukee Ave. and sat him down.
We hailed a cab.
A cab stopped.
It was a van.
Face and I lifted Speedy inside.
Cabby said, "No. Can't do. Can't do this, man."
Face said, "Come on, man. His wife or son or somebody will be waiting for him. Just take him home."
Cabby said, "Wife and son? No. No, man."
I said I'd go with.
Face said, "Nah man" then turned to the cabby again. "Come on, man. Just drive him home. He know his address and shit. S'all good."
Cabby said, "Can't do that, man. No no."
"I'll go with, man," I said.
Cabby looked at me and said, "Yes, you go with. Is ok."
Face didn't say anything for a second. Then he shrugged. "Aight jo, I'm sorry. Come find me when you back around. Come find me at the bar."
I slapped hands with him and got in the cab.
The cab smelled like piss and old rain.
Speedy mumbled about money, trying to put his hands in his pants pockets.
Something about 900 dollars on him.
Something about paying for my way back.
Speedy gave the cabby an address and we drove toward it.
The cabby started to apologize.
Said he didn't know.
Said he didn't want to have to carry him, couldn't carry him.
"Can't do this, my man, you know?" he said, making eye contact with me in the rearview mirror at a stoplight.
"Yeah, no problem," I said.
Speedy tapped my arm and loudly whispered, "Heece a bussy"—then hiccupped.
The cabby laughed making eye-contact again in the rearview mirror.
He turned up the contemporary dance music on the radio and raised his eyebrows to me in the rearview mirror. "I make it louder?"
"Hell yeah," I said, looking out the window.
And we drove.
Speedy tapped my arm with his hand.
He nodded toward the cabby and said, "S'a bussy"—then fell sideways a little.
I caught him and straightened him as the contemporary dance music played.
Cabby said, "I turn here? Here good?"
Speedy said, "No, kip goin. Go a my house, marfucker. I get paid, I have a lot of money. I make more'n you."
Cabby turned down the music. "Yes ok, that's good my friend. Ok."
Speedy took out a handful of crumpled money and showed me.
I opened my eyes real big. "Whoa, nice."
Speedy laughed, resting against the door and holding the money out.
That made Speedy laugh more.
The cabby was making eye contact with me in the rearview mirror.
He started laughing too.
It was chaos.
When we got to Speedy's place there was no wife or son out front!
Just a small house with a gate and staircase and some signs about not having a dog on the premises.
"Pull up here, pull up here," Speedy said, pointing to a utility van out front his house. "Don't hit my van, it has a security system, ya fung bussy."
Every time I laughed, Speedy'd laugh and look at me.
Felt like we were both 8 years old, at a sleepover.
Speedy told the cabby to back into the alley a little to line up his door with the sidewalk. "Pull up, pull up," he kept saying.
Cabby kept saying, "Yes yes, pay here, pay here."
Speedy handed the cabby a handful of bills.
He offered to pay for my ride back but I said I'd walk, lying about how I knew some people who lived nearby—the old "I know people" routine.
The cabby got out and opened the door for us then stood back while I got Speedy out myself.
I almost dropped him at first because my arms weren't securely around him, all the weight on my fingers and wrists.
But then I adjusted.
"Put me onna steps," he said, looking over my shoulder at his house.
I carried him down the cab's ramp and onto the sidewalk.
Looking at the cabby over my shoulder, he said, "Heece a bussy anway."
The cabby laughed. "Is ok?"
I said yeah.
He got in his cab and drove away.
I carried Speedy up the front steps, set him down so he had space to lean back.
"Anks," he said. "I'n sit here and smoke a square. Shh, I mean a joint, nehe."
I laughed and nodded, said goodbye.
He said, "Ok I see you Friday" and fell asleep on the stairs.
It was a really long walk back.
There was already a blister covering my entire left heel, from not wearing socks with my boots.
The blister came off the heel immediately, squishing with each step.
The fucking squishes.
Lord Almighty, the fucking squishes.
Up above, the moonlit clouds looked rippled, like the ribcage of some giant thing digesting me.
And I wondered if the direction I was going went down into the digestive system or up out of it.
Wondered what difference it made.
There was a bug hovering over a small pool of ice cream on the sidewalk.
Like a firefly, but it wasn't a firefly.
And I could've stepped on it and killed it.
But I didn't.
Be thankful, little bug.
For in my world, you are just a little bug.