As soon as we got out of the car, humidity drowned us. Outside the parking garage sat an on-duty security officer. He didn’t have a gun. I checked. Nothing more lethal hung from his belt than a thick flashlight.
It took my date and I longer than necessary to ascend the steps. Maybe our bodies ached. Maybe we didn’t feel like going. When we finally landed on the second floor, we stared at the movie theatre, then kept walking to our destination. Hyena’s Comedy Club. We looked inside, through perfectly clouded glass, watching a waitress serve drinks. People perched on stools, performing the same motions from five seconds ago like a recording set on playback.
It all makes sense when you see it. Really, in the time we stood there, then sat on two steps of concrete designed to hug rear-ends, nothing happened.
Nothing happened, I should say, until something did.
“Can you spare a couple dollars?” a woman asked. “My husband’s an alcoholic.” I looked her in the eyes and captured the wrinkles on her face. She arrived from nowhere, dressed in red and holding a drink from Whataburger. A big plastic bag hung on her other arm. “I need $7 to stay the night at the shelter.”
“They make you pay $7?” I think – and I say this because in life, while you’re actually living, there are no mirrors around – the sudden tension in my face let her know we’re one in the same.
“Yep – they let you stay free the first three nights – then after that it’s $7 each time.” Now, she used you in a general sense, but it gave me the feeling that anyone could find themselves homeless, if the wrong circumstances tied into them.
I frowned, and time passed. Wind only blew silence. But a natural silence, nothing awkward about it.
“Do you know anything about this club?” I said, pointing.
“No – not really.”
I pulled my wallet out and felt for the bills inside.
“I do know that to get to the stage area – you have to walk through the doors around the side,” she continued. “And,” she added as I offered three ones, “There’s a cover charge and a two-drink minimum.”
She thanked us. We thanked her, and we both meant it.
When we walked past the security guard soon after, I said hi and nodded my head. Maybe, we’re one in the same too.