[ a non-commercial project ]

N O T E S      The big guy and myself had been huddled over bean soup and coffee long enough to watch two sets of customers come and go. It wasn't that we weren't hungry, and the food at the Kettle doesn't disappoint you even if you are looking for nothing more than ballast; we just took our time. He stubbed out Winstons in an ashtray that looked full of gray-white worms, sipped his double-cream coffee, bringing it to his lips with pale, nubbed fingers that shook a little in the transit; he glanced around from time t o time in a way that you wouldn't call nervous or expectant, but you could tell that there was something just under the surface waiting to find an outlet ... in fact, if you let the big guy's attitude get to you, you were liable to feel like maybe he wasn't such good company... making you edgy...acting like maybe the next customer to walk in the door of the Kettle would be the cue to get up and walk out. The big guy was facing the door, but I got this way of side-sitting in a booth that lets me keep a good view going if l want it, and all l saw come in were two overweight cops, Magnums hanging off their hips, looking for nothing more than a hot meal and a couple of stools to drape their fat rears on. They got their coffee and whatever while "Love Will Keep Us Together" scratched out of the Jukebox, and the big guy lit another Winston. I swallowed some black coffee and gave up on the bean soup... it just wasn't riding right on a gut full of Jim Beam and beer, but I felt as wide awake as seemed possible on an after-hours morning like this. The big guy's nerves were infectious... I was wired, all of a sudden, on some organic frequency that seemed to take hold of my motor responses and transmit "you are not fatigued but simply passive...use your muscles, your brain, your tissues NOW! MAKE A MOVE!" It was such a strong signal to my system that I reached for my wallet automatically, pulled out a five, and threw it on the table, gesturing frantically for the big guy to follow me up and out, which he did. The two cops at the counter didn't even notice as we moved through the door at a pretty good pace and hit the street, not speaking or acknowledging looks at all. When we reached the car, it was lightly misted over with ice. We worked in silence, our breath misting, scraping the freeze-up from the windows with a plastic tool and the edge of a grade school ruler. With a few sober belches the machine started, and we were headed east on 90, into a vaporous dawn.

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