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March 5, 2008

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10 minutes to enliven
(as opposed to kill)
before my 5:23 54/5
out of here at
45th Ave SW & SW Wildwood Pl
in W. Seattle
i duck into Guadalajara
for a quick happy hour Tecate
pull my ass up on a stool
no one behind the bar
but the guy 2 stools down
turns to me and says,
My name's Fred--what's yours?
Rob-ert, I say, & we shake hands.
At first I think he might
be retarded; he says he loves
Seattle for all the special people,
but it dawns on me he's only
drunk, very close to getting 86'd
w/ a healthy shot of tequila
still in his glass. My wife likes
to know where I am
, he says,
returning the bar's cordless
phone to the waitress/bartender
who's just returned to her
station. I order my beer &
Fred offers to pick up the tab.

I warn him I'm leaving
in 5 minutes to catch
a bus but he insists. Tells
me he used to be a gang
leader not far from here,
been married 42 years,
used to live & work in Japan.
He asks the waitress/bartender
why the other waiter won't talk
to him. She says, That's my son.
Only 17 & rightly suspicious of
drunks; Fred tries to give the boy
$3 but the boy puts it in his
mother's folder. Take it, Fred demands,
but the boy says he gives it all
to her. I insist you take 10 cents
on the dollar.
The boy politely
refuses & it's time for me to go.
Fred says he's going to
drive my bus. At this
point I wish he would b/c
I've been out here writing
this for 20 minutes and
it still hasn't come.