I am the last person left in the Mission and Howard late-night diner. My shoes are slipping off my feet, off my street-side stool, onto the linoleum tiles. I am unable to maintain a look of comfort and the corners of my lips, as attached to some heavy weight, bleed down on each side of my body. Across the street, a woman leans against a metal light-post. She is not alone; a man stands facing her side. She is barely dressed. Her clothes hang off her body as if they want to drag her whole self down to on pavement. His hand traces her side and pauses longingly on her hip, but she will not turn towards him. Discouraged he pulls back and takes a pack of Parliament cigarettes out of his jacket pocket. He smiles placing the pearly white cigarette between his top and bottom teeth. He tries to approach her again, this time rapping himself against the light-post and reaching his arms around to grasp her. As he blows a breeze of smoke around her, she moves for the first time, into the street and he follows. Cutting her off, he lifts his hands, motioning surprise. Her eyes widen, and she looks squarely at him mouthing each word slowly, “Closing Time.” My attention is suddenly on the waiter behind me. “Its closing time, pal” he repeats. Startled, I slowly slip my feet back into my shoes. My coffee gone cold and my food swollen and unappetizing, I wonder how long I’d been sitting in the window. The door jingles behind me and crossing the street, I find myself alone at the metal light-post, wondering if there was anyone left to watch me.
December 10, 2009