“What I jerk!” I thought as I watched him fade into the mob milling on the sidewalk. The rain now seemed to be falling harder on my head than a moment before. I pulled up my hoody and looked in the opposite direction, “The direction he had flung out his arm like he didn’t give a rats ass which way I went,” I mused.

Whatever. #74 to the University District…that’s where I need to get to meet up with…what’s her name? Fuck! I’m so late already, and I can’t find the piece of paper with that girl’s number on it. If I miss her and have to stay one more night on the floor at Todd and Chris’ …well, I just don’t even want to think about it! I run toward the sign indicating the tunnel entrance, glancing desperately one more time at the clock before flinging myself down the escalator into the depths of stone and steel. If I can just make the 3:54…

Safely on the bus…just barely…I sink into a plastic green seat near the back and pull my hood down around my face. Don’t need to see anyone, nobody needs to see me. Knees up and my soles flat against the seat in front of me, I close my eyes and think about the past few days…

My friend Shayla had been all over me for ages to get my ass up to Seattle to visit, or stay even, but even though we had just talked on the phone last week and we had planned it all out, when I got here on Thursday morning, she wasn’t anywhere to be found. Not at the Greyhound station, not answering her phone or the buzzer at her apartment on Capitol Hill…nowhere. I didn’t know what to do so I lugged around my suitcase for most of an entire day, calling Shayla every so often, before I started to realize how stupid I looked. One too many sidelong glances from one too many Trendsters hit that one home. I dragged my suitcase back to the Greyhound station downtown and locked it away…after taking a few necessities out of it and cramming my purse to the gills.

Lots of coffee and trips to the bathroom later, this cute barista named Todd asked me if I was okay. I mean, I had been at the same table for hours and it was time to close and…well, even the gothy doom writers don’t sit at the same table for as long as I had. I guess I must be a horrific actress because he didn’t buy one word of what I told him and next thing I knew, I was being hustled along to his place to meet his boyfriend, Chris, and I was staying with them tonight and there was nothing I could say to stop the whole snowball effect that was Todd on a Mission. I think he said something about being a Cancer and that, Damn, if he was gonna let me sleep at the shelter…blah blah blah.

Well, four nights later, with a lovey-dovey gay couple in the next room, and all their friends over for breakfast each morning after dancing at Neighbors, their favorite nightclub, until 4:00 am…well, I’ve had it with all that, as nice as they are. I mean…a long party weekend is fine and all, but what the hell has happened to Shayla? I still can’t get a hold of her and don’t really know where to begin to look for her. Where does she work? Who are her friends? These are questions I don’t have the answers to and, since I no longer have a home to go back to, I’m stuck here for now. That’s why the bus-ride in the rain on a nasty October afternoon out to the U District to meet…Ashley? Sheila? Alisha? What is that girl’s name?! And where the hell is her phone number in case I miss her?! Damn, I want a cigarette!

I rummage through the junk in my purse looking for the pack of Salems I stole from Chris’ jacket pocket before leaving that morning. Ugh, menthols, but whatever. They were free…and Chris will just think he dropped them somewhere last night between Neighbors and the apartment. Aahh! There they are! The smooshed pack at the bottom of my bag…containing only one single fag. I laugh at the slang: a fag from a fag. The English language can be so funny sometimes…then my laughter cuts short. Broken…in two places. Damn it!

Oh well, can’t smoke until I get off the bus anyway…

© 2008 D. Kessler