Segment 10: When a Third World Came West

I could hear the sound of his gears grinding and also I listened for a minute to the traffic around him, heard someone say Bumby and then heard cars zooming past other cars, the sounds some made when they were going faster than others and hitting their brakes too hard at busy intersections.  It felt like he had more than one person on the line, that he was managing more than one conversation at once and he sounded like he didn’t have his voice on the receiver, that he was answering questions from someone sitting in the front seat.  “Where are you,” I asked, watching Sam checking out the park and walking further uphill towards the street that wound around the lake where one or two cars were slowly going by.

“I got into a taxi and I tried to come find you back at your house, but I didn’t make it all the way because I didn’t know my way back in the dark and so I stopped here at the park, by the lake.” I walked up my side of the hill in the grass until I got up to the main street and then I walked towards a half-lit street sign which normally I would have studied more if I wasn’t pressed for time, because it had hanging moss waving from some large green trees on the other side of the street.  But then I looked for a street sign that looked half bent, from maybe a car hitting the pole or from the branches that swiped it during a thunderstorm and then I saw Douglas on it and I said “Douglas. (into the phone)  We’re onDouglas.  You know where that is,” I asked.

“The lake? What the hell?”  He said.  After a short pause and some mumbling to the person next to him he said, “Whatever.” and “We’ll be there.” and  “Don’t move.”

“One more thing,” I whispered.  I walked more up the street, the sand and pebbles from the grass where I’d walked in the soles of my flip flops now, making me work harder at keeping my balance since they were wet and I also watched Sam walking back downhill now from where he was, and I waved to him from where I was, but I thought the look I’d gotten from him didn’t mean he’d seen me. I said into the phone, “I promised a-friend-of-a-friend that I’d give him a ride home.  He’s waiting with me by the lake, so don’t be surprised.  We both need to hop in.”  I waited for that to register with Robbie.

Twenty minutes later Robbie was there at the lake, his music loud from the inside and both of his windows completely down on either side of his grayish green sedan.  The same Philippine-Hispanic woman who had greeted me originally at the door tonight of Robbie’s house, the one who’d had a hand for putting on mascara so well, was beside him, getting out now of the passenger seat, a sign for me to come around, and get in.  I called for Sam, who was a distance away from me, down towards the water now doing something near the edge and I saw something splash and once he got up to where I was I walked around without really saying more than hello and adjusted the front seat back so that Sam and I could have room to sit behind it.  I saw Sam come around my way by the window and I heard him say something under his breath or something I couldn’t hear to the lady before climbing in beside me where we sat more closely than we had all night.  There were some sweaters on the floor and the backseat was mixed with the smell of Robbie’s strong, cheap drugstore cologne, cigarettes, the smell of rain (I don’t know why), and sweat.  My legs were peeled to the leather and I looked over at Sam who was chewing on the nail of his thumb and looking out at the window, while Robbie threw a cigarette down outside and climbed in with the Hispanic woman into their seats, turning the turnstile up to Muddy Waters and revving his accelerator hard, making stones fly up past the small slit in the backseat window.


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