A Roll With Honey

August 29, 2009 at 2:05 pm (Clairissa)

The Mystery Machine pulled up in front of my house. I met the lovely Ms Clairissa in the middle of the street for hugs. The six guys drinking beer and fixing their cars waved at us, nudging each other. Mornin’, boys!

We closed her van door and disappeared into the house. It had been a couple of months since we’d seen each other. Her hair was bleached white, with streaks of purple here and there. She looked her same spunky self, maybe a bit tired and stressed. After being mauled by the dog, we retreated to my room. She tossed the bag of hair-gear on the bed and laid down next to it.

“Mmm, your bed is so soft.”

“Used to be yours, remember?”

“Yeah, huh?” She closed her eyes.

“Want a beer? I also have brandy, or diet soda.”

She looked up at me. “Water would be fine. I’ve got a lot of driving to do.”

I fetched, then sat next to her. We began catching up, it seemed we had a lot to talk about. I told tales of chasing girls at work, and how I’d been after one in particular without much luck. She patted my hand and gave me the “Persevere, little pilgrim” speech. She cut loose with more of a rant than usual, then sighed a heavy sigh. “Wow. I feel ten pounds lighter!” We stepped out back so she could smoke, and in what seemed like moments, it was time for her to go.

Instead of saying goodbye, I piled into the van with her. She had a lunch date, a meeting with a client, then another haircut, all in the neighborhood she used to have the shop in. ‘You always came to my shop to hang out. It makes sense that you do the same with my van.” We hit the road, me riding shotgun and using an index finger like a redneck OnStar.

As we pulled up to a stoplight on the freeway offramp, she made eye contact with a sign-wielder. He approached the van, and before he could say anything, Clairissa asked, sweet as pie, “Got a cigarette?”

His brow furrowed ever so quickly, then he said, “Yeah, sure.” He handed her a Marlboro.

“Thanks, I’m kinda out of cigarettes.” She tore it in half and lit the filtered part.

“Well, I’m kinda outta money!” He eyeballed me, recognizing me from work. (I know a lot of bums.) I nodded at him, not moving toward my pockets.

“Gotcha, hon.” Clairissa pulled what to be by my trained eye about $1.50 in change and dumped it into his hand. He thanked her, still begrudging giving up the ciggy. We rolled on.

“Nice way to turn it around. I’d have told him to go fuck himself.” I paused, smiling at her. “You too. I hate it when people bum me. Go buy your own goddamn cigarettes!”

“He used to walk Daddy for me. I let him crash inside the shop one night during the ice storm. Friend for life.”

We rolled past the old Hot Box. I didn’t even look, since who I’d have been looking for was next to me. Her lunch date was a few blocks away, it was time to say goodbye. She pulled up next to the old bus stop.

The light was changing, so we shared an awkward cheek-kiss and I jumped. She got back into traffic, and waved as she rode off into the sunset.

I sat at the bus stop in front of the gas station, feeling the deja vu. Last year at this time I’d have been doing the same thing, hanging out with Clairissa in this neighborhood, killing time until it was time to pick up my paycheck, or go see a girlfriend, or go try to find a girlfriend. We don’t get to hang out like we used to, but when we do it’s always fun.

And soul-refreshing. We have a way of recharging each other’s batteries. It’s what friends do.

Disgruntled by the new bus system, I had to pay attention to make connections to get home. Last year at this time one bus would take me home, now it’s three transfers. Grr… On the upside? I got a sweet text message from a special someone, getting me all in adither about Saturday.

The bus ride home was a sweet one. It’s all your fault, Clairissa.

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