We entered the station on fallen wings. The green tile was not as green as it once was and the rats danced viciously below our feet. We had hopped the turnstile and ran down, caught the first one toward Brighton. We needed to cop and knew that Eddie would come through. Eddie was a tough Puerto Rican from the Bronx, but he had moved out there to be with his baby mother and start a family. He hated it there and took out all of his hatred on his custies, cutting his shit with evil shit and hoping they'd only die on the inside, because a dead custie is a dead sale.
It was a new train. The lights were bright and it showed all of our imperfections. Hannity's acne was revolting and my sunken eyes made me look sickly and parasitic. Mud caked our sneakers and we were weary, worn and rotten. We smelled of cheap liquor and cheaper dreams, we were the children of false promises and twisted ambitions. We were the forgotten ones.
The young lovers sat happy and unashamed. They kissed with all their hearts and all their love, a raunchy expose of youth and hormones; lipstick stained white cheeks and braids were tossed back, their galoshes met almost in an embrace against the frigid air that was pumped through the subway car like a nerve gas to all love.
A couple of faggots sat across from us. They were dressed immaculately with white and button down blazers, tickets on their wrists from the bandshell we could not afford. They seemed so beautifully in love, but reserved and god anointed but I could not approve. Feeling wretched, I damned them to hell with an authority that was not my own, merely borrowed from misread scripture and verse of old.
I was exhausted. I was tired of it all; the walking til sundown, the selling of prized possessions. I put my head on Vincent's shoulder.
An old lady looked me in the face; she was someone's abuelita with marks beneath her eyes from too many tears. She seemed world worn and old but life shown across her face with a wide gaped smile that seemed to say 'this too shall pass'. She had a golden cross around her neck, tied with a silver string which dangled cautiously, afraid to scream her love too loudly to the world, lest it be stolen. It was a cross of the perfect humility.
I had lost my cross years before. It was sterling silver, made in the land of my fathers and brought to me as birthright when I was still burrowed deep in the belly of my mother. It was a mark of my family and of my grandfather who carried it across the sea for protection from the very life he sought. I was naked and ashamed without it's silver shine across my neck but she still looked in my eyes like she knew me. I looked away.
In my eyes was my only, the Giraux. If she could see my tattered clothes, what would she say? What could she say? Nothing could whisper from her purest lips but an eternal woe that would dribble from her tongue in tear drops and fallen hope. I love her so much: she is the fiber of my being, the wind that tumbles across my face in the blackness of night when the moon is too afraid to twirl across the midnight sky and the stars have never left their beds, hungover and foolish. There was nothing to do now but cry.
I lifted my head and looked to Hannity's face.
'Is everything going to be alright?'
'Why wouldn't it be?'
'I don't know.' I said.
He shrugged. 'I don't know either.'
We got to the block and heard Eddie got locked. 'Shit,' I thought to myself, but that was unimportant now. The storm was about to fall and I didn't want to be sick and soaked through. We crawled past the Odessa and Vincent walked into the liquor store, got us a cheap fifth of white label and we walked toward the boardwalk.
It began to drizzle and we felt it chill our bodies; our clothes were thin and I was frail, too afraid of life to walk but too in love to turn back. As the rain became heavier, you could see the torrential tears leaving pockmarks on the crystal ocean. The air smelled like the sea and the noise of the cars slowly drifted into eternity. We walked up a new set of crags, those that jutted into the icy sea; we walked to the very furthest point. It was almost as if we were standing before a gap of infinity, lightning shattered the clouds and the air alike, its twisted power burrowing into our eyes and leaving an echo of neon darkness for seconds to come.
We did the obligatory taps, like any good bums. Opened it and started chugging it right there.
'I met a guy last night,' said Vincent.
'What was his name?'
'His name was Jim. Allegheny Jim. I was standing there on Kings Highway, right down there by where the bus station is, he was just standing there trying to stay standing like a dying dream. He was dressed in hobo rags, like rags, tattering and messaged with ruin and piss. He smelled like the inside of a whorehouse, said his name was Jim. Just looked me up and down, then up and down again, then straight in my eyes with the bluest eyes you'd never believe. He just looked me deep, so deep he could see my grandmother's eyes in my eyes and he was in love. It wasn't a sex thing, it was just love.
He asked me if I had any beer, I think he smelled me. Gave him a sip of my baby James, we got to talking. He knew about everything I knew about, about the birds from around where I'm from and the songs they sing and he knew about all the buses that went around where I went. I was so in awe and remarkably in love with the holes in his teeth and his eyes, because they were my eyes and I knew it. Then he said I looked well familiar. 'Do you know Bobby Hannity?' he said. I said, 'yeah he's my father.' He just shut the fuck up like we never said a word. Just asked me for a dollar and dipped.'
'You good, Vincent?'
'I'm just a little drunk,' he looked down. 'We're halfway in.'
'What are you talking about?'
'I don't even know. I'm drunk. But we've been fucked, we've been lied to, we've been had. We've lived other men's dreams for our whole lives, we've been sent to group homes where there's nothing waiting for us outside their walls but prison or death. But I've been thinking about it man. What if we're the lucky ones?'
'You're drunk. I've never gotten shit.'
'I am drunk but listen. We don't have our minds to cage us, we've got no goals to hold us back, all it is is a bottle and a drunk, a bottle and a drunk. What if that's what's meant for us? That doesn't seem so bad. What if we're the ones God loves, his chosen people? The ones unafraid of heaven or hell? We're the unabsolved, the ones on a nonstop run to heaven. If thy will be done, we'll be done and that's alright with us. We're golden. You're golden. You're here with me and with God at the very end of the world and I love you for it.'
The rain was beating down and his face had gone white like a shadow that's lost it's feet. His hair was thrown across his face wild and untamed and upon the rocks, he looked like a prophet of rage upon a mound above the earth.
I thought of my grandfather. What could he say of his grandson now? I was drunk and washed with a white lap of sea, there was nothing left for me. I was a villain. My cross was gone, I could never return from the sea in which I had plunged and I heard a voice across the sound that said 'Go.'.
Down the beach there was a gray figure, it looked lost and afraid. I was so drunk I couldn't see.
'What is that?' I stammered.
'It's a dog. It's lost.' As it came closer, I saw a gray dog shivering in the rain. It had lost it's fat and it's eyes had lost their shine. Graying fur fallen with mange covered it's body which ruffled around it's tired, homesick eyes like halos of heartbreak and sorrow.
'What's it doing on the beach? Doesn't it have anybody?'
'They say when dogs run away from home, they can always find their way home up until it rains. When it rains, they lose the scent of everything they love and they're doomed to just wander around til the dog catcher or death.'
'Let's try to bring him some place dry,' I said.
'Leave him. He'll find his home one day, maybe a lot later than he'd hope.'
I was drunk. I was wasted and puking on the edge of infinity, heaving before the face of the Lord. Hannity was just straight backed staring into the icy sea in a deep conversation with his maker. Once more I heard the voice, so I fell back to the beach, then back to the train, wet with the waters of my own cowardice. As I met the tunnel I was chilled with the August air conditioning on the city subway and in my drunkness, I fell asleep. I dreamt of Vincent as a tired, world wearied saint, sent to banish the snakes from schools and churches and call all the lost dogs home. I never saw Vincent again, but sometimes I dream of him, with a Great Dane by his side and a horn to his lips that sang the greatest song of love, if I should fall from grace.