First, let me start the day off by saying Happy Birthday to Erika Fazio, who has pushed me for years to try and get this story out. Has it really been years Fazio? It’s coming along. Okay. Back to it, shall we?
San Francisco is the kind of town that closes in on you if you’re not careful and nobody is being careful out there. It’s not the place for that. My delivery service was netting me enough cash to seed the big event pretty much on my own, but I think everyone’s talents were going to be the draw (This allowed for my ego to stay in check long enough to put out a plan instead of put out what only I wanted to do). The nights I was spending with my lady were getting more and more distant. I wasn’t in the moment and she felt it. Searching for something. Looking for a completion inside of me that only came from reaching through other people and experiencing a moment with them. I had to spread out and move among crowds. My job as a messenger allowed me to do that – to go into other worlds and give them something from yourself and snatch a little something when you leave. It’s a fair exchange. It’s real.
Without the connections available through that, I took to making time with tourists. They are everywhere here, walking slow and taking pictures. When they’d be taking pictures of each other, either a boyfriend of his girlfriend or a wife taking one of the husband and kids, I’d ride up and offer to take all of them in the same picture – extra time to just get them in focus. Then, after I snapped the shot, when I handed the camera back to them, there would be an exchange on the touch that electrified me, and kept me moving. All over the city I’d spend days doing this, which of course led to a few times when there were girls on vacation with each other who liked the idea of a bike messenger playing a part in their getaway. In those days, we were iconic.
After dropping off my latest delivery to Valerie before she started her shift, she told me to hold on – that she’d faked being sick and that she needed a lift somewhere.
I waited, not having anywhere to go and money in pocket from the drop off making me content on seeking at least one thing. Valerie came out shaking.
“Can you take me to the ER down by the park – I think he ODed.”
I grabbed the handlebars tight and looked at her to jump. Communication without words is necessary when seconds could be life. She jumped and I headed down. I moved faster and the more I did, the more I could feel her tears hitting my face and freezing up in the fog. Once I was on my bike moving through the city, nothing else was around me. All of the objects were stationary and easy to evade. People and moving cars didn’t have the perception I did.
“I’m going to loose him,” she kept saying – though I’d hear words drop off quick because I was moving faster that she was talking, so they sprinkled on the streets in back of us. “He – he was an ass to everyone but in those late night hours after shows and showing everything I had for those droopy eyed men who people think hold up the city but no, no they don’t – but when I was finished with them, he stepped up and was my man. Without him, I don’t know.”
I let her talk and replied with sharper turns and more focus, until we reached the doors of the ER. Others were pulling up in similar vehicles and similar stories. Valerie jumped off the handlebars and raced through the doors, nearly knocking over an old woman struggling to even take a step. Life, in all of it’s stages was on display. Nobody here was holding cameras to capture a moment. I looked for a place to lock my bike that was out of the way from the madness and then headed in – looking to be of some support or maybe for just a place to actually go. We all might be looking to find the balance between those.
Her man was pretty bad and barley the there. The doctor, who had to deal with heart attacks, gun shot victims and car injuries seemed to not have as much time for a junk vampire who was on the verge of passing away because he couldn’t stop sticking needles into his veins – whatever veins he had left. I guess he didn’t have any, because in the pieces of conversation that I understood from the doc about what was going on – It sounded like he had missed and shot right into his bloodstream.
“If you leave me, I’m not going with you,” Valerie said, in hopes of Patrick fighting back (Yes, I like that as a name for him. A pale tall irishman from Hawaii will make for fun stuff with vamps), which he wouldn’t.
“I’m going to just go with this,” Patrick said, seeming to enjoy the ride. “The pain is pretty intense, but I can feel it at least. That’s what I’m after – you know this. Take care of my ponies.”
She raided up and flexed, bearing her fangs like a dog protecting her own, except that she was the own and dog in this situation, which it looked like she was finally realizing.
“I’m going to burn them down into a ball of nothing if you don’t fight.”
“I’m not fighting anything. Time for the other side. The right side. You could always come with me.”
“You’re asking me to kill myself so I can join you and play with dolls in some spirit world? Jesus, what the hell am I doing here? Who ARE you?”
She realized everything and composed herself – like she hit reverse on the VCR and just took it all back like that. She was good in that way.
Patrick realized she was moving away from him and tried to reach out but realized that whatever strength he might have one time possessed he’s given up and now just hung there like a pair of pants about to drop to the street like from a clothesline.
She turns and walked away, grabbing my hand to help her continue down the hall of the ER and past the sounds of others crying over losses.
Outside, she put on her sunglass and waved down a cab, which was never far away from hospitals. They’re smart and know where people need rides without thinking of the costs. Good business folks always know where the money is. She rolled down the window and called out to me.
“So, we’re still on for Wednesday. I think everything is going to be fine. I’ll put together something special for my show.”
There went the cab – off with life and away from death.