I watch his eyes flash hazel-green
in my direction as he sips cheap
scotch in a fog of cigarette smoke
in front of me.
He thinks about how to phrase
what’s inevitably coming next,
“So, um, have you ever killed anyone?”
I roll my eyes and slide back into my side of the booth.
Trying to find an invasive question
to throw back I say,
“Have you ever fucked for money?”
His fingers flinch into balled fists,
his gaze shifts from mine.
Hazel-eyes jump nervously as he waves down
the waiter to order another round.
Quietly, he leans back into his side of the booth.
We stare at each another
through a fresh cloud of chained smoke.
The waiter drops off the hooch.
He downs his with a raised finger lifted asking for another
and says, “That’s kind of rude, don’t you think?”
I tell him what I think,
“Yours was just as rude.”
He doubles down,
“Show me yours, I’ll show you mine.”
I grin behind my silence.
He takes a big drag off of the cigarette
that’s been smoldering in the ash tray.
Done with the quiet he blurts out,
“Yeah I’ve fucked for money
and I use to make pretty decent cash at it too.”
He told me a substantial part of a life rarely shared.
I listened intently to his tale,
it was in every single way
a human story filled to the brim
with tragedy and laughs, love and hate,
pain and pleasure, bad mistakes and no other ways.
It was about surviving another day using whatever it took.
It was reminiscent of many stories I’d heard,
not necessarily the fucking for money
but the stories that hard-working survivors of interesting lives tell
are my favorites.
Lives lived with a longing to itch that scratch,
to experience beyond where society or culture demands
the lines should be drawn. Those of us who say,
“Nah, I got this.”
Those that do for themselves what they think is right
because on close inspection
the world’s view of morality is lacking,
many of us have been harmed by the touch
of ‘civilized life’.
Lives of those thrown into the muck
a life filled by harshness and bad luck
the beat-down trodden-on soul that refuses to give up.
We harm each other we harm ourselves,
there is no code no law that can’t be broken,
even the ones they say are god’s divine laws can be snapped
easy a twig
as soon as desire or anger or apathy or greed
or anything else human is brought into play.
I asked him if he regretted the shit he’d been through.
He looked at me like a battle-tested soldier,
resolute and strait in the eyes,
“I don’t. All the bullshit I’ve seen made me who I am.
Life throws its punches, I’ve learned
how to take the hits. I ain’t gonna off myself so
I might as well learn how to enjoy this shit and admire
the scars that’ve developed over my old wounds.”
A life in the margins,
what life looks like from the gutters,
living life in a manner meant
to live another month, week, day ,or just
another moment can make life look pretty clear.
We’re all just winging it,
from top to bottom.
We’re all just humans living and breathing, existing and experiencing,
nobody understands the full complexities of this life
or the intricacies of context,
we must just do our best with what we’ve got
and try to make it one more day, so that maybe
we’ll get a break
and be able to try and make it tomorrow too.