Some Saturdays
I’d get restless
after working all week
for salespeople
who never invited me
to happy hour.

When the sun set,
I’d load my backpack
with beer and cigarettes,
lace up my boots,
and bundle up in
a corduroy coat
and black knit hat.
I’d skirt down the alley
to a dingy park,
sitting atop
a splintery picnic table,
beneath a clouded moon,
listening to the tangle
of rusted swings.

One Saturday,
music pulsed
from a rental house
high on a hill.
Lured by bright windows
etched with silhouettes,
I made my way up
a set of rubbled steps.

“Who are you?”
A blonde guy
in a polo shirt and khakis
blocked me at the door,
flanked by two identical guys.

“I’m Linda,” I lied.
“I’m looking for someone.”

“Like who?” he said.
“Yeah, like who?” the second said.
The third simply stared.

I didn’t answer
and nudged past,
the three guys muscling,
grabbing my backpack.

A guy in flannel
with dark wild hair
broke through the swarm.
“Leave her alone.
She’s with me.”

The three guys laughed.
One pushed me toward him.

“Take her,” he said.
“She stinks anyways.”

The guy in flannel
took my hand.

“Let’s go.”
He pulled me
through a mob of people
to grab a plate of snacks,
then led me up a staircase
to a room
at the end of the hall.

“This is better,” he said.
“All those people are jerks.”

He swung the door open
and set the chips,
and cheese
on the empty plank floor.
The plaster walls were bare
except for a world map
and a wrinkled poster
of Che Guevara.

“Wanna beer?”

The guy fished two Dos Equis
from a Styrofoam cooler
then sat on a mattress
strewn with
worn paperbacks
by Pablo Neruda,
a Spanish phrase book,
and a spiral notebook
filled with scribbles.

“You can sit,” he said.
“I’m not like them.”

I peeled off my backpack,
then my coat,
and lowered myself
next to him.

“Thanks,” I said.
“I mean,
for saying
you knew me.”

He leaned back,
the top of his head
brushing the world map,
his face unshaven,
his eyes speckled
and hazel.

“Sure,” he said.
“You looked a little lost.”

We shared the chips,
then pretzels,
not talking.
He popped cheese
in his mouth,
then pressed a small piece
to my lips.

“I bet you name’s
not really Linda.”

He licked his fingers
and leaned in.

“I’ll tell you my name
if you tell me yours,” he said.

He took off my hat
and smoothed my hair,
slipping off his shoes
then mine.
Pressing together,
we stretched
the length of the mattress.

Lighting cigarettes,
we laid on our backs,
a blanket pulled to our chins,
our heads propped
on folded over pillows.

“I’m leaving soon,” he said.
“On a motorcycle.
To Mexico,
maybe to Panama
or wherever.”

He blew smoke rings,
his jaw clicking.

“It’s good we met,” he said.
“I guess.”

Image credit:Daniele Levis Pelusi

Ann Kammerer lives near Chicago, and is a recent transplant from her home state of Michigan. Her short fiction and narrative poetry have appeared in several publications and anthologies, and have received top honors in a writing contest or two.