They call him Sly, and he’s slick like gasoline. Buzzin through a late night crowd, he’s on a pick-up for a buck before sleep. A few kids call on him but, not anything kind. “He called me a Punk!”, was the last grunt I heard before he threatened to lose his shit on those snot-nosed brats. College kids post kegger, insurance on Daddy’s buck saying things like “Get a job”, as if they knew what brought him here.
He’s the best peddler on the block. the least threatening of the bunch, in our Village of the Queen City where thick rimmed glasses pay for their beers on a 2-4-1 Tuesday night budget. He’s the last voice you hear before turning in for bed. A raspy reminder that not a thing’s been shifted under Apollo. A coughing call goes out to the last flannel shirt stumbling with final rounds. “Can I get two dollars for the bus?” is as soothing as a goodnight kiss to a mother’s youngest, spoiled pisset for all hazy-eyed locals in route.
His two and a half mile home stretches with bakeries, bars, and bodegas. Crowds jingle drinking tips in their pocket. They slip past Sly with a smirk- a feel-good exchange for their giving. They leave with a little self-humbling for better sleep. They don’t even see the other flunked fool with a burden to lose get suckered into giving another five behind them.
He likes Pink lemonade but only if you let him have it for free. Otherwise, he wants nothing but another buck for the bus to get to another street. And if you pass him you’ll see- he’s sometimes refreshed, sometimes sober, and sometimes -nope. none at all. But, he still likes Pink lemonade and if you got one, a Marlboro as well.
One time he told me about his grandmother from years back when. She was a bright, strong woman who took up nursing, married three men and outlived them all. She had a nice house in a better part of the city, when the trees were real Elm. She had plenty of children to keep the gene pool steadily flowing, and he remembered her like cake.
Another time, he told me he was a Vampire and swiftly darted off into the streets with nothing to fear but a phobia of garlic.