I went to allende alone
i could have asked someone but I didn’t feel like it
buying tickets at the bookstore, I was surprised when asked “How many tickets?”
I said “oh, just me and my lonesome” kidding around ish.
I know how to park at that downtown oakland church.
You don’t go for the lot. it’s way too small
however the neighboring streets, particularly
the ONE WAY in the wrong direction from the entrance to the church
is usually an easy spot
there it is
I am parking behind another car which has just parked
not exactly behind but on the other side of a driveway
I know the car type
older model and the too many bumperstickers
none of which I could disagree with
“AWAKEN” and such
The woman who gets out of the car is dressed in layers of dresses and baggy pants
She is messing around in and out of the car.
She is filling or emptying a water bottle
She wears a scarf
Finally she throws a guitar case over her shoulder and walks in the direction of the church
I am not wanting to be near her but I am not disgusted either
I realize that we are going to end up waiting together at the corner for the light to change.
She turns to look at me and there is a moment when I could have pretended I didn’t know but I didn’t do that
When she looked at me I said,
“Janet?”, “Janet Fowler?”
She usually sings at this church on Wednesdays In a room downstairs. Therefore, the guitar
She decides to see Allende instead at $15. without blinking an eye
Waiting for it to start we talk.
She has been homeless for a long time and she doesn’t seem crazy. Mostly she camps out.
Not needing more of her story, I stand up , excuse myself and ask her to save my place.
She says, “Leave something”, so I leave my scarf and go look at the books for sale in the lobby.
The latino poet laureate of san Francisco
Introduces Isabelle and after some chatter
Alllelne reads from her new novel which is a mystery set in san Francisco amid teenagers.
She reads a gruesome description of a brutal murder discovered by children.
Immediately, abruptedly even, after the description Susan gets up and leaves.
I respected it and was relieved at the same time. It felt like she lived by different rules and would not allow herself to be in that dark atmosphere.
Like she couldn’t risk it
Or wouldn’t allow it.
Anyhow she left.
But when I got back to my car,
Her car was still there. Still across the driveway. Still saying “AWAKEN”