Tagger by Michael Hoskins
.......Shifting roll-clicks can be heard throughout the subterranean car as it speeds thru 2 AM next day morning. Tagger has been up most of the night 'working', and is heading back to his efficiency in Boston. The only other passenger in the car is some seedy looking man about 35 who it is obvious is 'deep in his cups'. In fact, maybe deep into a whole cupboard of cups.
Tagger looks at his red and blue tinted fingernails. Occupational residuals. Tagger is thinking about the crazy, flipped out people he saw in the city on that awesome beautiful painted bus earlier in the day. Moving graffiti show! He had been moved to real tears of joy to see this rolling ancient bus maneuvering thru downtown traffic with a loud speaker on top blaring, " A vote for Barry's a vote for fun!" Lost in this revelry, Tagger was brought back to real-time by the other passenger.
" Hey, man. You look like someone who likes to read. You know who Jack Kerouac is?" The voice was thick with liquor, but the words were pronounced without a slur and the end of the question sort of trailed upward.
Tagger took a closer look at this person and saw a dark haired rather sharp featured man with intentional eyes that actually looked rather kind, though a little glassy. Tagger did like to read but only certain types of books. Books about being outside and doing things outside; in the physical and the intellectual sense. Was this possible? Could it really be?
" It's you, isn't it?"
The man throws his head back and very loudly laughs. One of those Heh-Heh-Heh laughs that goes on for about 10 drunken seconds.
"Yes, my good man. In the flesh. A shroud of the night and author of a litany of libational laments! But sorry. No autographs tonight!" And he threw back his head and laughed again.
Now Tagger was nobody's fool, and while this man did look a little like Kerouac, he looked so disheveled Tagger's initial thrill of maybe meeting the great Kerouac was, well, taking a quizzical step back to examine the affable drunk before him.
"Mr., uh, Kerouac It's a great privilege to meet you,"
(The man sips from a pint bottle produced from a jacket pocket)
"and I was wondering, uh, what is the name of your novel about the, well I mean, where you fall in love with Mardou Fox the black woman, and hang out with all those Beatnik characters but then you lose her?" Tagger knew the book 'cause he'd read it. Tagger's station was coming up soon and he was anxious to maybe strike up the conversation of a lifetime. There was a reflective pause by the man and he took another swig from the nearly empty bottle. The man unsteadily stood up and walked toward the doors, swaying like a man without a Hula-Hoop.The car was slowing down and it was plain to Tagger that the man was getting off at this station: 24th street.
"I gotta go, kid. Have to see a man about a sentence. The answer to your querical question ,"
(The doors open and he steps through)
"Is where you're sitting now. The Subterraneans. And get that paint off your hands before they bust you! This some 'a yer work here?"
(He points to the cars exterior. Sky Pilot Club logo)
"If it is, it's kinda weird!Hah-hah-hah."