We sat on the grass and – no, you can’t have people sitting down all of the time and just looking out into the world. He has to leave her or at least loose her somehow when he joins up with.
With the money for the gig, I was able to keep everything. Wait. Let’s talk more about the delivery. Perhaps I should switch Voices again. No. Keep it with the photographer and the Messenger. Not sure why I can’t call people by their names.
I was on the hill watching as Alberto talked with his lady and the fog started to jump off everything for a little bit. You never knew. Watching a couple in the morning you just knew what was happening by the movements – how thier heads hung down and what their feet were doing trying to stay on the ground. Myself I never tired to stay on the ground too much because I knew that was for suckers. The earth tried to hold me for too long and when it did I marched like everyone else through the narrow lines they drew up. I felt everything and reacted to none of it. The world for me, for the most part, existed in that eye of the camera – my AE1 – and everything else fell apart in order of importance. The money was good from the gigs coming in. The more the city built itself around me, the more money people had to spend on themselves and their hidden desires.
I would get pages, you remember pagers, right? I would get a page and roll to a pay phone. Valerie would be on the other line – either that or her assistant – some guy I never met but didn’t enjoy speaking with as much as I did her. She’s tell me the place but never what the gig was about. We figured it would be better for the photographs and the clients if I didn’t know what was happening. The reaction time was instant and more in the moment, which is what she was promising people. The money started stacking for me, so I could only imagine what it was for Valerie. She had to have enough to retire soon or so I thought, but when we met up, she was always in second rate close and looking like she was eating okay, but always eyeing the next dollar. Between working so much at the Theater doing her shows and then pulling in clients for our special afternoon beatdowns, not sure how she managed to sleep at all.
We met up for a photo drop at a little cafe on church street. Was it a cafe or a bar? I can’t remember much of those details now. It was a retro place with tons of wood and bottles everywhere, so now that I think about it and the focus starting to come back, I guess it was a bar. We met at a bar in the middle of the day but it wasn’t like the seedy ones downtown that were open so early in the morning. Everyone might have been drunk there in some way. So anyhow, we met up and she was already there scribbling inside of her notebook. Nothing fancy – just one of those 99 cent spiral jobs. She was intense but natural while writing – seemed like she was into it and was at peace while working. Not even like work, just going at it. She noticed me but not with a look when I sat down, but finished her thoughts on paper.
“I’ve got a show tonight, so I’m trying out some new stuff,” she said. “You should come by. I don’t have anything for you tonight anyway.”
“You want me to take pictures of it,” I asked.
“No – I want you to come and enjoy. It’s a good time if you like that kind of stuff. Don’t worry, it’s different than what we’re doing for cash these days. I’m just reading some of my work. You’ll like it. Good people. Interesting night. You’ll remember it. It’s nice to remember things clearly.”
She was nodding a bit after she spoke, so I figured keeping the conversation up was the right thing to do.
“Why don’t you give me a preview of what you’re going to do tonight?” I asked.
She grabbed her paper and looked at me. Then around at everyone else, but realized that there was in fact nobody else there. I realized it to at that moment. The emptiness of awareness was staggering to me.
“You’re going to have to attend to hear this my friend. You’re my friend now I guess. We work together, but we can’t do what we do and not be friends in some way, right? I believe that pretty much. That’s the beauty in doing what we do. We have a connection with people we work with because the work we do is something real. It’s a service. People need us to act out their spirits. Without us, they’d be following what those billboards told you was the right way to live. Looking forward to opening a box wrapped in paper every 25th of December. It’s just not real. Not to me. Not to us.
“I can’t get enough of it, let me tell you. I mean, I’m addicted to the heroin no doubt, and that’s something I’m going to need to take care of one day, probably sooner than I think. I’m lucky because I can handle it and have enough to support myself and my man, but you can’t count on steady money coming in like that forever. Once the money dries up, the junk is going to dry up as well. Where was I?
“Yes, so we should talk about taking this up a notch. I don’t pay any taxes for what I do. I’m on fucking food stamps and unemployment still. As far as they state knows, I’m in need and just hanging on. They have no idea and they wouldn’t know where to look. I think we could make a lot more and do so much with this time right now if we just had some more people who felt like us. Do you know anyone? If you do, please, invite them to the show tonight. I live up on McAlister street. You’ll know the house when you see it. Just a few blocks above Fillmore. Come around 10. Bring that camera of yours but because you want to not because you’re on a job. Don’t get used to using what you love to make money only. It’s going to ruin the love.
“Anyhow, let me see the pictures and then I gotta get out of here. I’m covering a fucking day shift if you can believe that. Won’t even make 100 I bet, but you never know what altering your schedule is going to do. You don’t know where I could get some speed, do you?”
I thought for a moment, and then remember that Bike messenger I had met south of Market and knew he would know. Those guys always had ins with someone.
“I think so. How much do you need?”
She pulled a messy ball of cash from her purse and peeled off around 60 dollars.
“This much for the speed, and tell whoever brings it I’ll pay for the delivery when they bring it. Cool?”
She wrote a mailing address on the envelope and handed it back to me with a 10 dollar bill.
“Can you get some stamps and mail this off? They like to get it in the mail and pretend people are blackmailing them. Sickos.”
With that, she walked out the door into what was now a sunny afternoon in San Francisco.