Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Olie on Second

Hydelands a Taylespun Blog

Olie wasn’t a junkie, at least I don’t believe she was, but what do I know.  She was walking along the sidewalk on Second street, behind the Crystal Palace that is the court house in the city, here.  She looked a bit disheveled as she took one slowly placed step after the other.  Each foot was planted with purpose.  The sun was high in the bright blue sky. The heat of the day yet to be enforced, but the small woman in from of me walked like the sun itself was her burden.
            I had jury duty on the second floor that day. We spent our morning waiting and waiting to be chosen or sent home.  I was chosen and then sent to lunch before the start of the trial, and that’s when I met Olie.  I was walking toward that little coffee shop, the one with the great cupcakes and chicken salad.  Not Willow Tree like the other shops in the area, this one, Troy City Coffee and Lunch, made their own.  They boiled chicken beasts in seasoned water every day for a fresh batch of the “Bird Salad” they offered on fresh baked deli rolls. So, it was toward Troy that I was walking when I saw her for the first time.
Olie wore a pair of black denim jeans.  They were torn in a few places.  She had on heavy black boots with white sting laces. The boots were speckled with red and yellow spray paint. Her hair, jet black and fine was pulled into a pony tail that started near the top of her head.  She slowed down, if that was possible, and I found I was right beside her within just a few steps.  I’m not sure why I remember this part, but she had on a white t-shirt with an image of the President doing unsubstantiated things. The caption stuck with me, it read, Orange is the New Crack. I smiled, almost burst into laughter.  She spoke. Softly, yet firmly, and directly at me.
“’t’s so fuckin’ funny?”
Took me a second to understand she was talking to me. I was absorbed in the moment and the politically themed comic on her shirt.
“Your t-shirt, I answered, fucking hilarious.”
“Ya think?”
“Yeah, I do, sorry to interrupt your thoughts, but it just caught my attention, really”
This tiny little woman, more girl still, maybe seventeen or eighteen, I guessed, had just intimidated me in so few words.  I really felt as though I had shamessly burst into her solitary world.  I took a long deep breath.  She stared at me.  I found it hard to break her gaze.  That’s why I never thought she was a drug user.  She held this powerfully independent gaze that looked as if she were reading my soul.  I stopped breathing.  Held my breath for a few seconds and then I was able to break that stare.
            I lowered my eyes and looked at her boots.  That’s when I saw the paint spray and white laces.  I found myself wondering what could cause that look, it seemed almost accidental, but it looked so free.
“Dude, you got a problem with me?” she said, no longer using that quiet, timid voice.
“No really, I just have jury duty, it’s lunch and I was going to Troy Coffee for a bite.”
“Then why you been eye-ballin’ me.  I look like I sell BJ’s or somethin’ you creep.”
“No, that never crossed my mind.”
“Always crosses a guy’s mind, ‘specially and old fat, white guy’s.”
“I’m not old.”  Yeah, but, fat and white I couldn’t deny.  Old I realize is always simply perspective.  “Look, Kid, I just liked the shirt.  I don’t want a BJ.  I just want lunch.”
“Lunch, now there is a concept.”
She seemed to soften with that sentence.  She became more of the young girl she should have been.  Her piercing glare shifted, and she looked to her own boots.  She began to step from side to side. And then suddenly she pivoted and began to step away. My heart sank.  I’ve been called a libtard, a snowflake and others I’ll not repeat. My esteem can only handle so much before I get pissed off.  What I am, you selfish pricks, is a fat, old, white guy that actually cares about people.
“You hungry, kid?” I asked in a soft voice, “Really, you hungry?”
“Always, but I got my dignity, not much else. I ain’t beggin’ or blowin’ for shit.”
“I didn’t ask for anything, I asked if you were hungry.  Coffee shop has great bird salad on a nice soft roll, and great coffee.  I’m looking for a bit of conversation to pass my lunch.  If you’re in, I an springing… Just one question.”
“Here we fucking go…” she took a long breath and another step.
“No, just your name.  I am offering you the respect of using your name, not calling you ‘kid.”
“Gimme yours first.”
“Name you dense fuck!  I don’t eat with no dudes whose name I don’t fuckin’ know”
“I’m Kirby, Kirby Rounds.”
“I’m Olie, just Olie is all you get.”
“Fair enough. C’mon.”
She walked with me to Troy City Coffee and Lunch.  It was cool inside.  Smelled great.  The place was nearly empty.  We took a table near the front window where we could see the folks walking by and everyone could see us.  Olie was careful, always darting her eyes from face to face as folks walked by the other side of the window.  I brought two each Bird Salad sandwiches and tall iced coffees.
Olie proceeded to tell me a story that blew my mind.  I am still trying to process it and once I do… well, then I can continue.  Let’s just say, the trial over the next few days barely held my attention, and I thought about my daughter, Dawn, and how much different her life might have been with a few different friends and choices.  Sure, I knew already how thin our lives were, how fragile life is despite and outward illusion of strength, but Olie pulled aside that tattered old curtain for me, yet again.
Olie’s story remains a tale to be told, or rather shared.


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