They Can’t Know
All I do, they can't know...no, not allowed...my wife and kids and all who think they understand me.
They already know too much, have their hooks in too deep. A lot of them are nosy; some of them want to run me. But I know what to do. I know how to deal.
Sometimes I drink coffee and watch cargo shipping in the bay when I'm supposed to be grocery shopping. Sometimes I bowl. I do other stuff too.
I don't lie, but I don't tell them everything either. They don't have the passwords to my accounts or my hat size. I won't say what to do when I'm dead. They might have trouble. I don't care; I'll be gone.
In the meantime, I skip work for movies; I pick a Western, or a twisted indie... docs about vanishing junkyards or a pineapple cult in the Midwest... Icelanders... something they won't care about. I never mention these films.
Once I saw a priest at a bus stop. He wore the old fashioned black cassock. He was a Croat. I decided to confess. He guessed I was damned, but I gave him fifty bucks. He neither blessed nor thanked me. That's OK. Hell, I'm no Catholic.
Another time, I drove downtown…February, dark and cold and wet. Stopped for a red, I saw this hobo on the corner, wobbly and dirty but splendiferous in a three piece suit, black shirt, white tie, patent leather shoes.
He tumbled right down in front of me, down onto the curb, into the gutter. By the time the light went green, he'd righted himself a little. I knew how to act. I pulled over and helped him into the car.
I said, where are you going, and he said Salvation Army. I drove him there and let him out. But the stench of rotten feet and BO, hooch and piss soon made me vomit.
I never mentioned it...nobody's business. I drove around for hours with all the windows down.
Steven Gowin, a graduate of the Iowa Writer's Workshop, produces video for a Silicon Valley firm. His work has appeared in Hobo Camp Review, Literary Orphans, Red Fez, and other fine places. He loves California but expects it to burn again soon. The thought saddens him, so he hopes for El Niño this winter.