The ladies sit at the two end counter stools, drinking coffee.
Peter leans on one bat winged door, and while they talk
he keeps an eye on the stove. A good morning.
Paddy Tolliver looked real tired, are his kids still sick? And is Chris Raybo looking pregnant?
Good Lord, but that girl gets more ass than a toilet seat.
Peter looks at the clock above the cash register, tells the ladies to prepare for round two.
Helga works the stove for this crowd, that lets Peter be with the merchants that crowd his place.
Next block over is Market Square, with its shops and stores and stalls.
This hour before they open their places is when they exchange the news of the day.
The tax proposal from the city council, interest rates from the Fed., Johns old lady taking off with the computer repair kid.
Peter walks around with his cup and a fresh pot of coffee,
stops at each table and booth, sits and chats a spell.
These are his friends and peers, and every one who knows him
can see how he enjoys this time.
A tropically-colored miniature cyclone blows through the door,
a swirl of skirts and scarves and necklaces.
Kiloman Sanjaurro; skin the shade of dark sweet chocolate,
voice smooth as sugarcane rum, tongue like a long machete.
Peter unconsciously checks his balls, makes sure he still has 'em.
He knows that for the next hour or so he is subordinate to Jackie and Helma, at least in HER eyes.
He confines himself to the kitchen, where he can do no wrong. He mutters while he cooks.
Jackie pokes her head in the pass-through window, puts on her Kiloman face and her Kiloman voice and says,
Tell dat goudlookin mon back deer I wan caffee, I wan salaud, I wan tousand Island dressin.
Jackie winks and ducks an airborne oven mitt. As she withdraws she barely hears, goodlookin my ass!
I wan this , I wan that, I know what she needs!
But Peter thinks, my, my, Kiloman sure looks fine this morning.
Jackie asks Kiloman if she has any new poems she would share.
( Peter perks an ear. He loves her poetry.)
Sure, she says. Dis one I ben workin on.
She claps her hands in a complicated pattern.
“There a burning at the crossroad
devil standin there
young boy blow a blues harp
want to make a deal
Sign his name in red blood
He got blood to spare
devil he be laughin
soul for him ta steal
Mama at the whore house
workin off the back rent
Gramma in the cellar
workin up a mojo
Uncle at the roadhouse
pay already spent
Sister got her bag packed
time for her to go
Rollie play the gitar
lookin for some pussy
Bonnie wearin high heel
walkin down on Main street
Preacher got religion
blessin pretty Macy
Redneck cruisin downtown
lookin for some sweet meat
There a burnin at the crossroad
lightin up the sky
Hard wind come a blowin
fannin high the flame
devil stand there laughin
someone gonna die
Young boy he be runnin
cryin Jesus' name
Mama in the kitchen
prayin to the good Lord
Sister ride the Greyhound
leavin home for good
Uncle got his head bust
with a two-by-four board
Rollie got the clap now
like we knew he would
Gramma makin voodoo
for ta cast her spell
Preacher beg forgiveness
for lustin in the night
Hound set up a howlin
in the pit of hell
Sky is burnin blood red
no salvation tonight
There a burnin at the crossroad”
With a mock flourish and a deep bow Kiloman sits down.
Peter doesn't know to laugh or cry.