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February 15, 2001

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snow. collecting in the road, tire tracks of turning cars are like clover leafs, same degree of curve, same celtic cross, same 4 ways you can go, north, south, west, east, the wind is out of the north, snow sticks to telephone poles like moss to trees. cabdriver from warmer clime takes his time pulling away from the buck after dropping off the cashier from fremont fresh market, the guy with what looks like a burn where a beard would be (sarah thinks it's a birthmark), on his arm a striking blonde out of Vogue magazine circa 1973. sarah leaves, i stay at the corner table nursing a pint of rainier the color of piss in snow when i see krishna crossing 42nd street on his way home from work at fremont classic, i knock on the window, he turns around & joins me, we split a pitcher but all he does is sip, too busy telling the story of drug-dealing Virgo friend in Chicago, 50 - 60 G a week, drives a Lexus, controls a 6-block radius, property in girlfriend's name, surrounded by ambitious men, he can't leave his apt., nothing personal, business is business, he owns barber shops, various establishments, looking to go legit but you can never call it quits, the best you can hope for is prison (it beats getting killed) where Larry Hoover & all the other top-level boys (just below the government) live & have all their needs met: drugs, liquor, women--can you think of anything else? the snow is heavy in the branches, it's not going anywhere, 1 a.m., nothing left to do but flip a couple of lucky cigarettes in the box of blue American Spirits, 1 for you, 1 for her, the last 2. i'm alone when last call comes (get the fuck out!), turn my chair over onto the table but the barback says don't bother & i leave a half-full beer on the counter because i can & the snow is really piling up in the street but instead of turning down fremont avenue home i head up on a hunch & poke my head into swingside cafe window where brad & company are having a little party & i take off my hat so they can see it's me & they point to the front door (unlocked) & a hot toddy's put in my hand as brad blows harmonica & john who's confined to his scooter & plays trumpet in time with what's on the stereo. brad owns the place & he won't be owned by helen, irish accent & a lisp, who grudgingly goes on up ahead of him & he tells her 15 minutes but the look she gives him says she knows she'll be falling asleep in an empty bed. soon it's just me & john & brad with his box of harmonicas-- A, C, D, E, like a bunch of subway cars, letters in circles stuck to metal rectangles but with vents instead of windows-- & he tells me to keep time so i rattle a spoon between lip of saucer & edge of table & he says yeah! yeah! & sings a rif about the snow, recites mark strand, & quotes an essay he wrote 10 years old about entering the mind of god through the cracks in his bedroom ceiling which resembled a river system & all the earth just there for him to play with. chet's a cook at the cafe as well as a drummer in a number of combos & i apologize for not being him but brad says that's not bad at least i am humble. john has a beautiful black dog he won't let anybody pet, possessive probably since muscular dystrophy took away the use of his legs. brad & i tell him he's being overprotective & like a military father his regime will be tested as teenagers rebel against parents who are pointlessly strict. it doesn't take long for keiko to prove our thesis. it's 5 & time to walk john home in the snow (after, OK, why not, let's finish the bottle of $60-wholesale Sauterne & smoke another smoke), he's worried the battery in his scooter's about to go, so we tramp out in the snow taking pictures he hopes will show how the enabling chairs he sells will go anywhere & he does slow doughnuts in american music parking lot with keiko dragging along tied to his handlebars & she goes completely nuts & drags him sideways into parked cars & just about bites us when we try to restrain her. even after he lets go she won't stop jumping on him, affecting his steering but by this time it's all just funny & we watch him slide down driveway into his very neat garage, not a spot of grease, & brad & i break rosemary off a bush at 42nd & greenwood before going back & cleaning up, a little more talk & then i'm off, already warming up, 6:30, snow dropping off power lines & out of branches, piling up like bodies in trenches, & sarah's already up worried about me & all i say is, hurry! let's go! it won't last much longer, & she builds a sad wet snowman in the street & people up on their way to work think it's funny but my feet are soaked & i'm ready after a long good night of unexpected adventure to go to sleep.