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The All Seeing Alley Where God Spills The Drinks (standard:other, 4599 words)
Author: RaindogAdded: Mar 18 2001Views/Reads: 2208/1290Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
An outsider's vision of San Francisco, from the eyes of the author to the minds of its forgotten and displaced inhabitants.
 



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The All Seeing Alley Where God Spills the Drinks 

Five Pieces from San Francisco by Andrew Keese 

I 

SERVICE FOR THE SICK! 

The tourist guidebook advises me sternly to avoid parts of the Mission
District, so I decide to and go and drink there one day, just because 
they told me not to and because I want to know what the good city of 
San Francisco is trying to hide from me. Beggars sit solemnly with 
their empty McDonald's thick shake cups of small change on the street 
corners. "Spare change, mister? Spare some change, mister?" they chant 
rhythmically. When I need directions, I give them a dollar in quarters 
and they tell me exactly where I want to go. It's about two in the 
afternoon and I've been drinking beer and bourbon at the Luna Park bar 
in the Mission district, sitting silently at the long, dark bar, above 
which a blinding pink neon sign declares 'Service for the Sick!' in 
cursive script, the only light in the place, and I wander outside and 
walk down the street looking to buy a banana or an apple from the 
Latino grocery store on the corner, to counteract the alcohol, when a 
youngish guy appears to my left asking for a cigarette, so I give him 
one. 

We're walking down towards 16th Street Station talking about what I'm
doing and the conversation turns suddenly to drugs for no reason other 
than I've been drinking and he senses something. He's talking about 
coke, and I start to think a line or two will wake me up and clear my 
head, so I say, "How much and how long?" and he says, "20 dollars and 
two minutes," and I'm far gone enough to think this is a wise decision, 
so I make a quick currency conversion in my head and satisfied, I fork 
over the crisp green bill and off he trots telling me to "hang back!" 
over his shoulder. I'm standing on the corner of 16th and Valencia 
thinking what a goddamn fool I've been, that he'll probably buy his 
lines and never return when he comes walking back rapidly, turns his 
head quickly and says, "C'mon, let's walk". We drop round a street 
corner and I'm thinking " ... and this is probably a quarter gram of 
baking soda", but instead of a little bag, he's holding a small white 
cube in his hand and I demand to know, "What the fuck is this, where's 
the powder?" and he says, "This is crack man, what did you think I was 
going to come back with in the fuckin' Mission?" and he's pulling out a 
small glass pipe and for the first time I look closely at him and I'm 
doubly surprised that he came back with the score. 

He looks about 30, but too short and the limbs are too young and his
eyes don't focus on anything around him and I'm thinking - junkie! - 
but too late, he's lighting up and I'm asking, "Is this a wise thing to 
be doing on the street?" and he replies, "A room'll cost us 30 bones, 
fuck it," and I say "Oh," because I'm not heading to a crack house 
where they'll rob and beat me, and I'm convinced I'm being sensible 
now, but it's more out of desperation than anything else. So he hands 
it over and I light it and draw back ... a sharp, plastic, chemical 
awfulness that fills up inside me like I've just eaten a burning tyre - 
and then  everything drops away. I'm feeling perfectly on the level and 
benevolent and it's like I'm floating down the street, not walking, and 
there's a huge shit eating grin on my face. He's tucking away the pipe 
and I notice that he's not smiling, just looking old and sad. He nods 
his head again, coughs, and says, "C'mon, let's walk". I think I'll 
cheer him up and I croak through a thick throat, "Let's find a bar and 
I'll buy you a drink and we'll play some pool". 

We walk for blocks in the humid heat, and all the time he swears he
knows a bar nearby where we can shoot some pool, but he's so gone on 
the stuff he takes us into a lesbian bar where they've crossed out the 
word patrons on the "must leave quietly" sign and scrawled women over 
the top. My head's too full of crack smoke to be initially fazed, so we 
order two Sierra Nevadas in large glasses and the barmaid is not 
impressed at all! She plunks them down in front of us. I drop a dollar 
tip on the bar and she doesn't wait, snatches it up before the beer 
even hits our mouths, and the lesbians are muttering and shooting us 
bad looks every time they smack a pool ball across the table. Seamus, 
that's this guy's name, is telling me that he'll organise a limo to 


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Email: ikeese@zeta.org.au

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