A Night In Denver:


 

Without speaking, I handed him a book of matches. Glanced at his face. It was not a friendly face - the lines were hard, scowling - but he was being friendly. Looked to be in his late thirties, maybe early forties. Black hair, greasy and straight, it fell behind his collar. Eyes grey. Sullen. Complexion, reddish, pockmarked. Not ravaged with pock marks, just a couple prominent ones that left an impression. His clothing was extremely non-descript; dark pants, a faded hawaiian shirt. An intimidating physique, the kind that casts a heavy shadow. He was built like a linebacker, half a head taller and maybe fifty pounds heavier than me.

"Where you headed?" he asked.

"I'll know when I get there," was my stock reply.

"You, ah, what, just travelling around?"

"Yeah."

"So, where you from?"

"California."

"Your family out there?"

"Yep. Left last year. Wanted to see the world."

The conversation went along these lines while I tried to concentrate on writing a few banalities on the postcards. With his gentle interrogation disguised as friendly interest he got it out of me that I was alone in Denver, no friends in the area, no acquaintances.

"It's gonna be wet tonight. You just going to hang out in the streets?"

"I was going to find a coffee shop, hang there until 3:00 or so. Then I'm going to check the job board."

"Whyncha stay at my place tonight? I've got an efficiency in my building."

"Yeah?"

"I'm the resident manager there."

That sounded legitimate. In the months I had been travelling, I often crashed a night or two with a hippy I'd met an hour before. 1975 was a different time. It didn't occur to me to ask him why he was down at the bus station himself, if he wasn't waiting for a bus, if he wasn't there to meet anybody.

Finally I agreed to walk with him back to his place and catch a couple hours sleep.

He asked me my name and I answered, "Doc."

"No, I mean your real name."

"They call me Doc."

"Why don't you want to tell me your name?" He kept it up andseemed offended that I gave him a nickname. I wasn't in the habit of giving out my name, so I told him a lie, feeling irritated, myself.

"Roy," I said.

"Roy what?"

"Harbinger," taking the name of a high school classmate.

He waited in one of the television seats while I finished scrawling on the postcards. No stamps.

"That's O.K. I've got a bunch. My place is just a few blocks from here."

We walked to his apartment in the rain.

 

 

Two women passed us, gave me a look, came to a quick conclusion, and kept walking. I noticed my host caught their glance, but his face was a mask. No old boy remarks, no quips about babes. He just opened the outside glass door of his apartment building and made a show of letting me enter first.

 

A hallway with a linoleum floor. Black and white chessboard pattern. Walls are white, doors on either side, all painted black. All of them closed. He stopped at a door on the left, with a half-dozen bolts on it, commenting as he opened them one by one, "This isn't a safe neighborhood."


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A Night In Denver ęGreg Bryant 1998 All Rights Reserved.  Any reproduction of this material is prohibited.  Unless authorization is given via Knighmayor Productions.