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