Fear and Whiskey

Photo by Jose Padua
To the young actor between roles
who was my supervisor at my temporary
data entry job at Goldman Sachs,
and who tried to make me get his coffee
when a group of us was standing in the break room
during our after-midnight break on the overnight shift,
and to whom I said, “the coffee machine’s right there”
totally deadpan, a performance better
than any struggling actor could ever dream of,
I saw you in a dreadful commercial one night
years later when I was living back home again,
broke, denied a job down on M St. in DC
that I was a perfect fit for because
the woman who would have been my supervisor there
didn’t feel comfortable working with people like me
who looked like what she called “foreigners.”
Or did I actually get your coffee?
Resisting the urge to spill it on you accidentally with intent,
because I needed the work,
because I liked that beautiful ride
they gave me in a luxury car at five in the morning,
from Broad St. near Beaver, back to Avenue B,
which back then wasn’t the upscale neighborhood it is now,
and I did like those lights,
going home in the last dark hour
of the morning up FDR Drive, to Houston,
to be let out without the need to pay
in front of the brown door with the broken lock
that I pushed open to walk to my fourth floor apartment,
where I turned on the light
and put a tape in my cassette player.
And I listened to a song
about fear and whiskey
that made me feel like I was standing
in the middle of Broadway at 42nd Street,
drinking the best cocktail in town
while the traffic swirled
around me and came close,
but never hit me.
And I honestly don’t remember now what I did,
because the only thing that stayed with me
were the lights, and the song, and the night
I walked home from the job
at five in the morning,
away from the land of bankers
and other goons,
to meet the sun,
as it rose slowly,
over Avenue B,
over me,
and all that lovely dirt and noise,
when I was young
and the world was still
real.

-Jose Padua

Photograph by Jose Padua

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