The other night, I left my headlights on. A defect of my car -- probably the alternator -- means that if the lights are on for longer than an hour, the battery dies.
So after pounding my steering wheel in the parking lot for a few minutes and fiddling with my cellphone, I connected with a guy with a truck who'd give me a jump start.
Twenty minutes later, he pulled up in a shiny white pickup and zapped the battery with some juice.
The guy had olive skin, a wispy goatee, long black curly hair, and, in contrast to his truck, dressed all in black with an over-sized Punisher t-shirt on -- the one with the white skull on black.
The car turned over. I paid him and threw in a tip. Sheer gratitude. When you don't have wheels, you realize just how lost you are, just how open to the indifferent elements, and how far away home can be. So I was feeling generous.
"So," he said, the job over, the cash in his pocket. "How are the ladies in there?" He nodded to the bar.
"Fine." I had to think, so I amended my answer. "Average."
"Well, my girlfriend's ugly. She's ugly on the outside." I expected him to follow up with the cliche, but he veered off.: 'And she's ugly on the inside. And she gets uglier every day." He spat it out like a rotten orange.
"Kind of like being married.
"I ask myself why I stay with her. It's because she's got kids. Three of them."
Before I could say anything to that, he tossed his hair, thanked me again and said he had to go.
And I wondered, later, who was punishing whom back in his house with the three kids and the woman who just kept getting uglier..