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True Stories by Steve Keely
Hobo Memoirs


White Bred Ed
Oct. 28, 2005

I tutored Mark when he was fourteen and seven-feet even. Today I looked up to him in the Kitchen for the first time in five years.

We sat across the table from each other at the Blythe Kitchen for California’s finest free chow. He and I wore competitive gleams over plates of heaped enchiladas.

‘Seven-and-a-half now?’ I asked, pleased that he looked passers-by straight in the eye while eating. ‘More like seven-nine,’ he answered.

‘Well, you’ve filled out too. What’s new in your life?’

‘I’m raising a new pup,’ he exclaimed.

‘That’s wonderful. What else?’

‘My fiancée is pregnant.’

I turned white. He was too young for that, and he cut me off. “We met up in Missouri.’

I went back in line for seconds, but not he. I returned for thirds, but he didn’t. I grew petrified over time. His mom used to drive us after tutoring across the Colorado River to the nearest all-you-can-eat Pilot Truck Stop smorgasbord. He wolfed seven plates a sitting then.

‘Are you ill?’

‘No, I feel like a new man! I just don’t eat like then. I stopped growing too. It all started in Missouri… ‘

A clamor shot up at the door. Two men shouted, approaching fisticuffs. Quickly, the Kitchen supervisor, a 300-lb. Mexican grandmother, inserted between the ruffians, raised her palms, and chided, ‘I don’t take sides. Sit down, both of you!’ Silence reigned except for the chews and swallows of thirty hard-bitten men and women back at their plates.

A siren screamed. ‘Who called the squad car?’ A nigger demanded. ‘We don’t need no cop,’ a spic pronounced. White trash joined the general tongue lash when a giant of a policeman walked in.

‘Where’s the pregnant lady?’

‘At the end of the table,’ someone pointed.

The girl was a redhead with lily thighs and green flip-flops.

He strode to her and slapped out rubber gloves. ‘Have you broken water miss?’ She moaned yes. The cop snapped the plastic fingers one-by-one in front of her nose.

The grandmother approached, gently rested a hand on her shoulder, and said, ‘Honey, listen. Breathe in slow… Exhale…Breathe in… ‘

‘Everybody in the room look the other way and shut up!’ yelled a wop.

A siren wailed. ‘It’s about time for an ambulance!’ declared White Bred Ed. The paramedic replaced the cop at the groaning redhead’s side and pulled out fresh plastic gloves. He snapped them before her unblinking eyes.

‘She’s blind,’ cautioned the grandmother. They awkwardly pivoted her into a wheelchair. The girl who a week ago led the Kitchen revival fainted.

I swung back at Mark. The door slammed. The siren wailed onto a distant street. I watched him rise to full height, amble out, and almost bump his head at the door. He shyly glanced back over the crowd, and left too.

The cook yelled after him, ‘I told you not to give her any enchiladas!’

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