I take my required smoke break during the hours the sun is most reluctant to wake,
relax on the edge of my Buick and extend my feet to the red hood of my mom’s Sunfire in our opened garage, inhale the inducing Marlboro menthol into my lungs, blood stream, mind, listen to the talking night, squeaking for the coming daylight.
I watch the pepper bush right outside our door and think of my mom cutting them, steaming them with smoked fish so we can have something tasty to eat with the white rice and palm oil.
I see the Mexicans’ apartment over our brown brick fence, windows still with duct-tape X’s from Hurricane Ike while their coal grill still sits on the porch, unused from the days Houston shared no electricity, not even to warm baby bottles nor to take warm showers after a long day at work, and I smell old quesadillas, tacos, enchiladas, burritos, or fajitas in brimming bags, leaning on rusty garbage cans right next to our recently re-enforced fence.
I believe the Mexicans are dreaming about how blessed they are living in a land of opportunities.
I study the gray or faded face of the night resting close to my head as if it sleeps like a hat I’ve always worn, forcing me to think of the gray-headed woman my mom has become, and puzzle over why my mom and I have to bathe, feed, and medicate my grandma when she has six other children and over fifty grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
I wish my mom had never married my Gola father nor had me, and then maybe the gray hat of waiting to be loved or being forgotten would had flown away.
I think of the red and brown faced kids I teach every Monday through Friday at Klein High School and hear them say you is and I ain’t gonna, or them asking me to stop using big words like procrastinate or constructive.
I imagine the people they are going to become: no doctors nor lawyers nor teachers, just convicts or drug lords or junkies—like their movies, YouTube downloads, MySpace or Facebook profiles predict.
I question why my passion for writing isn’t sufficient to pay for an apartment, phone bill, or once, allow me to pick up the tab for a dear friend, and plot to see which one of my employed friends I can trick into buying my next pack of cigarettes or at least bum a couple from to prolong my addiction a little bit longer.
I sit up on the edge of my used car, below the dull night or morning until the filter goes out.