There was this movie theater on Geary Street in San Francisco, now long gone. I can’t even remember what movie it was that brought me there that night with a woman who could have been a second or third date, but I do remember that we were inside the theater lobby waiting for the audience of the last show to depart.
As we stood there I happened to look across the room and saw a familiar face. I couldn’t place it right away. I kept looking until I said to myself, “Wait a minute! I know that guy, because he looks exactly as he does on the cover his novel, ‘Trout Fishing in America.’ That’s Richard Brautigan!”
So I said to my date, “You see that guy over there? That’s the writer Richard Brautigan. Have you ever read his work?”
She responded that she hadn’t. I went on to say something like, “He’s a fine writer, and very funny at times. I recently finished one of his novels!”
Not long after that, I came across his obituary: committed suicide at his place in Bolinas, which is about an hour drive from my house.
From then on, whenever I read something by Brautigan, I pictured him standing there in the lobby of that movie theater. Looking exactly as he did on the cover of that book. . .
© 2017 by Jeff Zable
On Powell Street a few blocks up from Market,
a rail thin, black transsexual in hot pants and a bra
is yelling at people, “25 cents. That’s all I need
to get something to eat!”
When I put a dollar in her hand, she says in a high-pitched voice,
“Oh my God, darling! You saved my life!”
And after I walk a few steps past her, I turn and see her
moving through the crowd, probably to the Burger King
or McDonalds where she’ll savor her food
as if it was a gourmet meal,
and maybe say a prayer for me. . .
the one who saved her life.
© 2017 by Jeff Zable
I’m eating a sandwich in the parking lot of Trader Joe’s
when a homeless guy appears on my wife’s side of the car.
When she rolls down the window I say to him,
“What can I do for you?”
Looking at my sandwich he says, “I’m very hungry. Can you help me?”
Putting my sandwich down, I take out my wallet, hand him two ones
and say, “This should get you something at Trader Joe’s—good luck!”
I continue eating my sandwich when all of a sudden it hits me.
“What the hell is wrong with me!” I say to my wife.
Why didn’t I give him the other half of my sandwich!”
My wife responds, “You could still catch him if you wanted to!”
With that I get out of my car and see him standing in front Joe’s
begging for money.
“Here!” I say, and hand him the other half.
He looks at me and asks, “Is it a good sandwich?”
“Is it good!” I say to him, “It’s chicken with pesto.
It’s the best you’ll ever eat!”
When I get in my car my wife asks if he appreciated getting the sandwich.
To which I answer, “I don’t know. I’d have to ask him.
I get the sense that he has very selective taste. . .”
-copyr. 2017 by Jeff Zable
[This piece originally appeared in Tower Journal, 2016]