I met him the first time when he came into the bookstore and bought Cannery Row. He was roughly my age, thick black hair combed straight back in that derelict, Bukowski style. We jabbered a little. He was full of it. I liked him.
We met the second time on the landing across from my room. I don’t think he placed me. The third time he was in No Sé bar and having a good time.
He remembered me.
His name was Shanghai, he said.
The next morning he came staggering into the patio at ten in the morning while I was having breakfast with Dulce. He could barely stand. He was carrying a dozen roses.
Said, “Every woman loves to get a rose,” and gave one to Dulce.
He bumped into the fountain on his way across the patio and fell down. I gave him a hand getting up. He continued down the hall. I waited awhile and decided to check on him.
I found him on the couch on the landing between our rooms.
He said he’d fallen down the stairs but he was okay. He was still clutching the roses. I know this couch. It sinks to the floor. He was sinking. His backpack was being pulled up behind his neck, but provided a nice headrest.
“You want a hand getting up?” I asked.
“No. I’m comfortable,” he said as he sunk further to the floor. “It’s the one-year anniversary of my mother’s death,” he told me.
I extended my sympathies.
His butt was on the floor now with his knees bent and his feet flush.
I asked him, “So, are you here for a while?”
He got a funny look on his face.
I added, laughing, “Well, not that way.”
He laughed too, and said, “Yeah, I know what you meant, but it gave me pause. I know that you know that we’re both short-listed.”
We got a laugh out of that.
I left him on the landing.
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