Yeah. So, this was back when he was scrounging around between Berkeley and Oakland, the borderland there like a tease. He was fourteen then, still a yard rat, still garbage diving with Adeline. He was tall for his age but she was taller. Skinnier, darker. She taught him to check the recycling bins first: if there were scraps, at least they’d be contained. Less rotten.
Adeline. She said her name with the hauteur of a drag queen, eyelashes swooping down and brushing back up like palm fans for the Queen of Sheba. But she got it from a street sign, because she was always hanging round that one corner by Ashby BART. She’d stand there in her garbage-bag poncho, with her 7-Eleven cup. (She’d caught him pissing in it once and nearly torn his earlobe off.) She’d hold it straight ahead, chanting at the commuters. Care to share care to share care to share. Cheerful in its way. Sometimes he’d find her squatting on the sidewalk, clothes torn, blood strung over her thighs and crudding her nails. Whimpering. Could somebody help could somebody could somebody. Just another kind of song, but it spooked him.