Nov 6, 2009

Beer run

He asked if I minded and held up the can so I'd know what he meant. The blinker on the car clicked, dry and like constant throat clearing. I said I minded. I said it so he'd know I minded and didn't think I should have to say it, so he'd feel guilty for even asking to drink in my car when really I was doing him a favor. I said, Do you have to? I said it somewhere between incredulous and condescending.

I said it like I wasn't the one who'd agreed to drive my alcoholic older neighbor to the store to buy beer.

He said, oh.

It was a Friday. He'd gotten paid that day. Half in the bank so everything would look like it was supposed to and half in cash he could hide from the court and the order to pay child support. It was 4. We were stuck in traffic. Everybody was trying to get out. He had to be at work at 6 at the restaurant, but had asked if I'd take him to the store before he had to bike it up there, but now I knew I shouldn't have and thought, shit, I just want to be done for the day.

He said, so, and paused, still holding the beer, trying to reformulate the question.

He didn't put the beer back in the case, when I said it. He kept it in his lap, between his legs. He looked at it. His hands were shaking. His hands were veined purple and covered with the kind of skin that wrinkles like paper. His hands reminded me of my father's, and how mine would look when I was old. They were curled in his lap like cramps. The traffic light turned green, but the people in front of us wanted to turn left and couldn't so sat there, and we watched the traffic move in the other direction.