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Togas and tomato sandwiches

Jacque had the day off and so did I, so I finally accepted his long-nagging invitation to return to his shared house and watch more of I, Claudius. Thought I'd also be seeing Jacque's wife and their fresh-squeezed baby, but they were visiting the baby's grandmother, so it was only us guys.

I tried to be a pal by asking Jacque about the baby, but the question made him grimace. "Let's talk about… anything else," he said. We talked about baseball and old movies, but not much of anything else. Mostly we stared at the screen, for six more episodes of Masterpiece Theater on VHS.

The more I hang out with Jacque, the more I like I, Claudius.

He made some fine tomato sandwiches, though, with slices of real tomato (not the bland watery red blobs from Safeway) and lettuce, onion, and cucumber, and mayo and mustard, all on toasted rye bread. Two of the best sandwiches anyone's ever made for me without me having to pay, and if that ain't friendship then I don't know what is.

♦ ♦ ♦  

Sam sold the news, but his death isn't newsworthy. There was nothing about it in Saturday's Chronicle — no story, no obit, no nothing — and I keep looking. Nothing in the overpriced and ad-stuffed Sunday paper, nothing in yesterday's Chronicle or today's Examiner

The man was a fixture, sitting atop the 16th & Mission BART station. Seven days a week, he was a genuine cornerstone of the neighborhood, and if the neighborhood was Pacific Heights he'd merit an obituary, but the neighborhood is Scumville, and the papers don't much cover the Scumville beat.

At the store across from his newsstand, I asked the cashier, "Do they know anything about what happened to Sam the news guy?"

"Oh yeah," said the smeared-lipstick girl, "I heard he died."

I don't want to be too nosy or macabre, but I'm curious about Sam's life now that he's dead — how many years did he spend in that green box? BART's only been there for thirty years, but my impression is that Sam was there first, and they built the subway under him.

I'm curious about how he died, too. If he slipped in the bathtub and cracked his skull that's one thing, but if he got shot at the newsstand, that's something else. Being a street vendor myself, I'd like to know.

One of the commuters who'd frequently loitered at the newsstand was standing at the green wooden box, still padlocked. I recognized him from the many times I'd seen him talking with Sam, so I interrupted his moment of silence with, "Do you know what happened?"

He didn't know what happened. Nobody knows, when the guy who sold the papers, the guy who always told you what happened, isn't there to tell you what happened.

We agreed that Sam had been a great guy and that it sucks he's dead, and then the commuter guy walked off to catch his train, and I stood there for a moment, looking at the green wooden box, still padlocked.

From Pathetic Life #24
Tuesday, May 28, 1996

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.

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