hard times

as I got out of my car down at the docks
two men started walking toward
me.
one looked old and mean and the other was
big and smiling.
there were both wearing
caps.
they kept walking toward me.
I got ready.

“something bothering you guys?”

“no,” said the old
guy.
they both stopped.
“don’t you remember us?”

“I’m not sure…”

“we painted your house.”

“oh yeah… come on, I’ll buy you a
beer…”

we walked toward a cafe.

“you were one of the nicest guys we ever
worked for…”

“yeah?”

“yeah, you get kept bringing us beer…”

we sat at one of those rough tables
overlooking the harbor.   we
sucked at our
beers.

“you still live with that young
woman?” asked the old
guy.

“yeah.   how you guys doing?”

“there’s no work now…”

I took out a ten and handed it to the old
one.

“listen, I forgot to tip you guys…”

“thanks.”

we sat with our beer.
the canneries had shut down.
Todd Shipyard had failed
and was
phasing them
out.
San Pedro was back in the
30’s.

I finished my beer.

“well, you guys, I gotta go.”

“where ya gonna go?”

“gonna buy some fish…”

I walked off toward the fish market,
turned halfway there
gave them
thumb-up
right hand.

they both took their caps off and
waved them.
I laughed, turned, walked
off.

sometimes it’s hard to know
what to
do.