San Francisco Chronicle

“Empty Can”

Aubrey Mejia

........Around eleven PM, we were spare-changing at the San Francisco grocery store, Cala Foods. We weren’t having very much luck, but we had enough to score perhaps a dime down on Haight. We were cold, sober, and we wanted desperately not to sleep in the car. So we went spare changing.

........Just then, a guy comes out of the store, counting $20s and $50s. Jackpot, we thought.

........“Excuse me, Sir, you couldn’t spare change, tonight, could you?”

........He looked startled, and then he looked us over.

........“Well, I just wrote a check for $200 over and I’m about to get a couple grams worth. You two look like nice kids. I’ll be back in about ten minutes, I’ll pick you up, we’ll go to my house, and we’ll do a couple lines together,” he smiled.

........Then he left. He got into his car, turned on his raver music, and sped out of the parking lot.

........We thought that was strange, but we were secretly hoping he’d really come back. Sure enough, ten minutes later, he pulls up, pumping his dumb raver music. He motions us over and we get into the car.

........Introductions went around. He drove like a crazy, fiending idiot. Jael and I didn’t care, we were glad to be out of the cold and nearing the time that we would remedy our sober predicament.

........We pulled up into the driveway of his apartment, a replica of every other apartment in rows in San Francisco. No yards, Victorian style, glued together. Our host, James, pulled out $75 worth of cocaine and a $100 rock of crack. Like a pro, he sorted the coke into perfect lines, while Jael made a crack pipe out of a broken car antenna.

........At around 1:30 AM, we were high. James, on the opposite couch from Jael and I, was sitting with his hands behind his head. He was staring at something, his eyes were wide open, and he hadn’t blinked or said anything for about ten minutes. We were drinking vanilla vodka; too jittery and wide awake to care about anything.

........“What’s up?” I asked James.

........“I’m thinking about my can,” he replied. I was curious.


........“I got this can, it’s in my garage, I’m thinking about it,” he said, still staring. His eyes were glazed over, and I had never seen eyes that wide open in my life. It was kind of scary. Conversation was an important distraction.

........“What’s in your can?” I asked, nervously. He sighed, and then looked at me.

........“Nothing,” he replied nonchalantly.

........“O-kay…” I said offhand.

........And that was the end of that particular night.

Read more of Aubrey's work in the: Caught in Class Series

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