Illustration by Mark Rogers
I was standing at the end of the bar on a restless Tuesday night. An attractive tough-looking girl from Jersey City was telling me about her dog.
“Yeah. I got me a Doberman. He’s a big dog.”
“I don’t like Dobermans. They look like they’re bred for violence.”
“He don’t bite people. He bites other dogs, though. He got stole once and when we got him back we found out a bunch of Puerto Ricans were fightin’ him as a pit dog.”
“In Jersey City?”
‘Yeah. We got him back he was full of holes. I was told he never lost. We put an ad in the paper and a Puerto Rican brought him back. A few weeks later some guy came up to my brother in the street and says, “Hey, you got a good dog. I made eight hundred dollars off that dog.” My brother, he’s big and he’s mean. He knocked the guy out with one punch. Just for tellin’ him that.”
She took a sip of beer and offered me a watermelon hard candy. “You want a piece of candy?”
“It’s good with beer.”
“I don’t eat candy when I’m drinking beer.”
“All right, take it for later.”
I put the candy in my shirt pocket.
A pale-skinned nun in a black-and-white habit was eating a black-and-white chocolate-covered ice cream.
Seconds later, a skinny derelict walked by. His nose and cheeks were coated with bright red mercurochrome. He had a piece of candy clenched between his teeth; an unnaturally brilliant green Chuckle.
He tilted his head back and gulped it down.
The Sunday morning subway ride to work. There was a Spanish family sitting in front of me, heading for the beach. The wife and husband were sitting together. She was young and had a sweet smile; in profile her tongue flicked in Spanish. The husband was older. His hands were up near the braid of her hair. They seemed to be twirling her hair with the love an older, heavier man feels when he’s successful in love with a younger woman.
My mind played out scenes of hard work and lonely days for the man that surprisingly led to love. But I soon saw this wasn’t so obviously so. His hands, close to her braid, were twirling and unwrapping a piece of hard candy that he popped into his mouth.
Later, as the candy pushed out his cheek, his nervous hands played with the bra stretched across her back.
She jerked her body and said, “Stop it!”
Two stops further she held her head between her knees as though she was going to be sick.
From the memoir, Breakfast Special: Wanderings in Hoboken
MARK ROGERS is a writer whose literary heroes include Charles Bukowski, Willy Vlautin, and Charles Portis. Rogers lives in Baja California, Mexico with his Sinaloa-born wife, Sofia. His award-winning travel journalism has brought him to 56 countries. His crime novels have been published in the U.S. and UK. Uppercut, his memoir of moving to Mexico, is published by Cowboy Jamboree Press. NeoText publishes his Tijuana Novels series and Gray Hunter series. You can reach him at email@example.com.