kale salads alone in my car at the park

I had a pen in my hand and I underlined a sentence and I made the motion again but without pressing the pen down against the paper.  There were words in my head but they sounded like fluff.  I looked between the field goal trees at the mountain and the home highest up on the mountain and the spaces were there were no homes and less trees/bushes.

The words didn’t hold in my head because a figure was approaching that I didn’t want to turn to see and only wanted to feel walk behind and beyond me but it stopped short and my head juked back because a water bottle jumped up close to my lips.

“Que bieber hamber queso?”

I looked to my left but the body disappeared and I felt it sit down a few feet to my right at the very same park bench; the exact same park bench that I was sitting down on.  I tried to read the underlined sentence and looked at the mountain and tried to read again and looked to my right.


I said hi and smiled and nodded my head.  I looked at the mountain as if it was supposed to tell me a really neat secret.  I pretended to read again this time all the way past the line and I turned a page and moved my eyes about at a believable pace.

The man stood up and patted his belly and said, “Chiquasa.”  He was probably in his late twenties.  He probably knew a trade.

“Hombrara?”  He asked and thrust the water bottle towards me.  I waved no.  He left.




The best part of eating a kale salad is when all the kale is gone and so is the rosemary ham from Trader Joe’s and the tomatoes and green peppers and mushrooms and all that’s left are the macadamia nuts and raisins/blueberries and/or dried cranberries.  I put the empty red Pyrex in my bag and started reading.

Someone was breathing and walking behind me and I prayed it was not who it probably was.  God proved he does not exist and/or does not like me.  The man with the burrito complexion sat down to my right again.  I looked between the field goal trees at the mountain, playing it real cool.  I think I thought if I could control my breathing nobody would be killing me that day.

I nodded.

“Hello,” he said.  He had a paper plate covered with food.  The food was some type of fish and some rice and other things.  He also had a brown paper bag.  He nodded his head while both his hands were on the paper bag and the paper bag made a carbonated cracking sound.  “Nice day?”

“Very nice day.”

“You are looking for job?”

“I have a job, no.  Lunch.”

“You have job?”


“You have…good job?”

“Yes, yes.”

“I saw you and thought you must have good job.  You know how…I could tell?”

The thought crossed my mind to say he could probably tell because I had black wingtips on and a button-down collared shirt.  Instead I asked how?

“I saw you with,” he stroked his face, “the beard.  And thought you probably had good job.  I would like beard.  I could tell also…I saw you,” he started imaginary scribbling on imaginary paper, “you are writing.”

I nodded a nod that expressed that all of his statements were true and logical in an emotional/spiritual sense.  He started to crack but caught himself.  His face looked like an Arcade Fire album.

“Computers?”  He wiggled his fingers.


“I had job.  South Lake.  I moved here to be with family.  And my…uh…woman.  She moved here.”

“South Lake?  I live in North Lake.”

“North Lake?  Is beautiful, no?  I wish I still live there.  But I moved because…my woman.  I was electrician.  Now I…no job here.”

“Have you…uh…looked on Craigslist?”



“Oh.”  He wiggled his fingers again.  “Yes.  Craigslist.  I have trouble…uh…application.  I meant to bring application.  Maybe someday you help?”  He imaginary scribbled again.

“Sure.  Yeah.”

“Yeah.”  His lips/eyes resumed the smile/frown.  I looked back up at the mountain.  He took a slug from the brown paper bag.  “I am…uh…would like to move to Miami.”

“Miami, huh?  Why Miami?”

“My friend?  He is there.  I talk to him on Facebook chat and he say’d there is job there.  But, I look up price of…uh…ticket.  I need six hundred dollars to go to Miami.”

I grimaced in show-empathy while I thought about how I could go to an ATM right now and give him $600 in cash and still have plenty of money to save that month.  I thought about how I could change his life forever and why it was I never would.

“If I had job?  I could help my family.  They are all here in…here.  I have twelve sisters…”

“Did you say twelve?  You have twelve sisters?”

His face lit up.  “Oh, yes, twelve.  Big family.  All of my sisters, they are beautiful.  All of my friends say, ‘Your sisters?  They are beautiful.’”

I laughed.  He laughed.

“Oh, yes.  And I just want…I just want to help…”  His face broke again, deeper this time.  His eyes turned red.  “I just wish…” tears were flowing now “…I could help.”  His forehead dropped to the edge of the table.

I stood and said I should go.  His face shot up.  “Please, if you can spare some change?  A quarter?  Just a quarter?”  He started crying again.  He tucked his face in his elbow, sprawled out on the table.

In that place there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

I looked in my wallet and pulled out a ten and put it down next his head.  I turned to leave.

“Please, this is too much,” he said.

I told him not to worry about it and kept moving towards my car.

“If I see you again,” he called, “I will pay you back.”




It was Saturday.  I was in a left-hand turning lane waiting for a light to turn green.  Another car pulled behind me, some type of SUV with a horse in front of a shield on the front of the hood.

The light turned and I was on the main drag in town driving the speed limit.  Thirty-five.  The Porsche kept speeding up and slowing down, speeding up and slowing down.  The car came close enough to hit my bumper.

I checked the rear view mirror and saw just the driver, no passengers.  He had on a long-sleeved red polo shirt with a white collar, popped, and white driving gloves.  There was gel in his hair.

My jaw clenched.  My breathe shortened.  My face flushed.  I tasted iron in my mouth.

Once I was on the hill I could see there were no cars coming and no cars behind me except Mr. fuckery fuckity fuck face.  I pulled to the middle of the road and threw the gear in park.  The Porsche honked.  I didn’t move.  He put his hand on the horn and his hand didn’t move.

My door hung open and I stepped out of my car and started walking towards the shit.  He stopped honking.  I saw him smirk.  I saw that fucker smirk.

He thrust his steering wheel hard to the right and took off around the other side of my car.  I watched as he drove up and down the next hill and stopped at the next light.

He made it fast.  He definitely made it fast to that next red light.

I heard a quick honk behind me.  I sighed.  I waved and yelled sorry and got in my car.




I still eat lunch at the park.  I alternate weekly between kale, romaine lettuce, and baby spinach.  I don’t get out of my car.

Posted in Matt, Really Serious Literature

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