There’s this man alone outside of the bar. It’s late, probably past one in the morning, and I’m watching this guy from across the street. He has his arms folded over his chest and he’s leaning against the wall like he doesn’t notice or doesn’t care that it’s crusted with piss and spilled beer and pieces of old gum. He’s not smoking and this is what grabs my attention because usually the only people who hang outside on a night like this, cold enough to freeze your titties off, are out because they’re smoking. But not this guy, he’s standing there, hands dug so deep in his pockets he could be scratching his knees and he’s all slouched over and just staring at the ground. I start to feel sort of sorry for him after a while because, shit, I don’t know, twenty maybe thirty minutes go by and he’s still standing there, so still I think if I went over there and gave him a good shove he would probably topple over sideways.
I actually think about doing it because I’m so fucking bored, and I've been picking my own boogers for like half an hour and rolling them into a little ball between my fingers. I should go tip the guy over or see if I can. Just for something to do. And I’m about to. I flick my artistic master piece of a booger into the gutter and stand up. My feet are asleep from squatting for so long and it takes me a minute of stomping and swearing, steam blowing icy streams from my nostrils and mouth like I’m on fire when I'm actually frozen inside, my entire body a block of ice, before I can feel my feet. I have this paranoia that one day I’ll get gangrene from spending too much time out in the cold, or frostbit actually, and then gangrene because I won’t deal with it soon enough, I’ll just let it go and then end up having to have my leg amputated. My dad lost three of the toes on his right foot because he passed out drunk one night in a gutter, when I was five years old, and got buried in the snow. I’ve been scared ever since.
But I live in this one bedroom little shit hole on top of a Chinese place which isn’t so bad if you don’t mind roaches and the smell of grease and sweet and sour pork twenty four seven, but sometimes it gets to me. Especially when my room-mate has her boyfriend over for the night and I have to give her the room because she pays more rent than me, expressly for this reason, and I’m banished to the sagging couch that must have belonged to a very old dog before we found it because it smells worse than the Chinese place at two in the morning when you’re hung over. The bonus is I also get to listen to them having sex all night—grunting and moaning in the bed that I usually get at least half of. It’s enough to make me want to slit my wrists. Which, incidentally, I tried to do once, just to get him out of the house. But Lisa’s brother slit his wrists once, and so she knows what to look for. When I came bashing into their room, my room actually, screaming that I just slit my wrists and waving them around to try and get the blood flowing a little, Lisa just said, “Let me see.” She was straddling said boyfriend, who doesn’t like me much, totally naked, mid-fuck, and she wants to see my wrists. That’s just like her, Ms. Reality check. “Oh my God,” she said, “Give me a break and get the fuck out. Those are little chicken scratches. If you want the bed so bad you’ll have to do better than that.” At least I made her boyfriend lose his erection, which was something at least. But he got it back after a while, and I had to put Band-Aids on my wrists and stuff my head under a pillow.
This guy is still leaning against the wall. The bar has closed, and the bartender just locked up and walked right past the guy like he was nothing, a piece of trash standing propped up against a wall. So I cross over. Jay walking because it’s two AM and no one’s driving. I tip toe up to the guy like maybe if I’m real quiet he won’t see me coming, and I give him a shove from the side, just to see if I can do it. And the guy tips right over, slam, I can still hear the sound his head makes when it hits the sidewalk, like a watermelon busting open. And I’m like, Oh Shit. I have to put my hands over my mouth to keep from screaming. Because the guy is dead.
I stand there for a minute staring at him all dead and glassy eyed with his hands still shoved in his pockets, then I pull my hat down over my ears and run all the way back to my apartment without looking back. By the time I get there I feel a little better. I dig through the dumpster in back of the restaurant and find someone’s leftover chow mien. I take it upstairs. My roommate and the boyfriend are still at it so I turn the TV up real loud and eat the chow mien on the couch with my fingers.