Friday, August 6, 2010

Food Court: chain

"Thanks for the lock."

The long-haired man in the ball cap nodded then took a drag off his cigarette. The pair of them, one black and the other white, stood together on the back stoop. The black man might have been 50 or he might have been younger. Not everybody looks the age they're supposed to be around this place, but he seemed older than the long-hair.

Under the ball cap, the man's face looked weathered and graying, like unpainted wood left outside for too long. The lines cut into his face from want or chemical hungers were pressed into young flesh. He might have been 30. He might have been 40. It was impossible to tell, but he moved like he was young and angry.

The black man gingerly eased his bicycle out of the shade and away from the rail where he'd kept it tied, while the white man reeled in a length of dirty, gray chain. The chain was heavy-duty, meant to stitch shut the heavy doors of a storage shed or the chain link fences to an auto junkyard, not an old ten-speed with bald tires and rust freckled spokes.

The younger man shoved the chain in a thin, plastic bag, along with a combination lock as big as his fist. He looped the top of the bag through his belt and hung it by his hip.

"You have to lock everything down," he complained. "Those motherfuckers will take it all if you don't have it secured." He explained, "I got me a shower yesterday at Covenant House and those fuckers stole twelve dollars off me."

The long-hair did not know who the motherfuckers were. He shook his head. The loss of the cash still irked him, but it was his own fault.

"I wasn't watching," he said.

The other man nodded sadly. Yes, it was his fault.

"Motherfuckers," he agreed, then pedaled away.

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