Now that the blog is a diversified format, now that the other writers can be front and center, I want to do something I have long wanted to do … something off-topic. It is not about politics or public hoaxes. It is about a person I think of as a friend, no, not a friend, but the love of my life. Her name is Karla.
She is a drug addict, but only when she scores some drugs. She is an alcoholic, usually drinking my beer (Schmidt), and usually when I am gone. She chain smokes, usually my Marlboro’s, but cheap brands when she is short of cash which is, like, always. She sleeps under my porch. I invited her in one time, but she put out her arm, palm raised at me and said “No way, buddy. I know what you want. You ain’t gettin’ it. Got it chump?”
She’s right about that, of course. I can’t argue. So I give her a blanket. If I go out there now I will find that blanket wadded up in a ball, and some butts and empty Schmidt cans (one thing we have in common, we drink the same beer), and chewing tobacco containers. I offered her a pillow one time, just an old couch pillow, and she said “What do you think I am? Soft?” So I take the blanket in and run it through the wash, and leave it on the stoop. That’s how I know she has been around. The blanket is missing.
And my truck. She borrows my truck too. I don’t know where she got a key, but some days I wake up and it is gone, and I could go looking for it, but soon enough she’ll run out of smokes and money and come crawling back.
Like, the other evening. I am watching football, so it must be Thursday, and I hear a knock on the door. It’s her. I invite her in, but she says she can’t and needs my truck, just to go get some cigarettes. So I say sure, and she stands there, and I realize, oh yeah, and hand her a five spot, and she is still standing there, so I give her what she wants, a twenty, and she leaves before I can get the five spot back, and backing out of my driveway, she is holding her arm out the window and sending me a signal … she is angry at me for some reason. What have I done to offend her?
I expect her back in a few minutes, but soon it is dark. I know where her haunts are, so I am going to pull a surprise on her. I will go to the Keg, her favorite hangout, and surprise her! It is a couple of miles away, and I walk there of course, and sure enough, there is my truck. I go inside and she is sitting next to some dude, and I interrupt and say “Karla! I’ll be waiting for you in the truck.”
“Good for you,” she says.
“Who’s the dude?” says her companion. “Your pimp?”
“No no no!” says Karla, smiling and sporting a row of yellowed teeth, only the one on the right side missing. “He’s nobody. Now, where were we?”
Seeing they are old friends, I decide not to intrude further, but I do have a surprise. I’ve never actually, well, you know, never actually … experienced Karla, not like, you know, a real boyfriend would. But I can tell by her friendly attitude in the bar that this might be my night. She is really outgoing and smiling, way more than usual. So I go out to my truck and disrobe. What a surprise awaits!
It’s cold out, so I start the engine and turn on the radio and light up a smoke, and as I lower the window to let it out I see a face – a man – the man she was with in the bar. He looks quizzical.
“Are you, like, nekked?”
“Uh, no, not really. I still got my pants on.”
He leans forward, peering down. “You sure?”
“Yeah, mostly. Underpants, anyway.”
Looking down again he yells out “Amber! This horn dog is in your truck, and he’s buck nekked!”
“Amber?” Her truck? I go to start the engine, but he opens the door and pulls me out, and I land on the gravel parking lot. Karla is looking down at me.
“I told you he was a weird one. Just forget it. Let’s go.”
Karla and her new friend drive away, and I have a problem. I have to walk home two miles now, I am cold, naked, and barefoot. I decide that down in the ditch is the best place to be, but it is awful! There are puddles of water, thorns, bushes that scratch me. I can see my breath, my hands and feet are freezing. I decide I have to get a ride – so I grab some weeds to cover myself up, and when I see a car coming, I stand up and wave with one hand.
It’s my truck! It’s Karla, and she’s alone now. She slows down, and rolls down the passenger window.
“Thank God it’s you. Give me my clothes.”
With that, she laughs her beautiful gravelly high-pitched laugh, the one I know so well, floors it and sprays gravel all over me. It really hurts. And, there is that hand sticking out the window, and that finger. Does she know any other way to say good bye? Why not just wave, like regular people?
Back in the ditch again I decide I’ll have to make my way home by walking on the road when there is no traffic, and hiding in the ditch when there is. I am walking along, freezing, feet killing me, when I see headlights coming towards me. Down I go, and then realize it is my truck again! Karla drives by slowly, and she is waving something.
“Here ya go buddy! It’s six times as long as you need, but it will keep that little pecker of yours warm till you get home.” She throws out a sock.
She sprays gravel again, and again the laugh, and again the hand gesture.
I made it home OK. My feet are still sore, got some scratches, but otherwise I am none the worse. I haven’t seen Karla since, but my truck is back, and the blanket is gone from the porch.
I’ve known Karla for a couple of years. She is a good person. I know she has her bad nights, but I am friend in need … I am there for her. Yes, she smokes all my ciggies, drinks my beer (Schmidt), and good lord, her beer farts could fry an egg. But I can’t help it. I don’t just like Karla. I love her.