J & T and the whole gang have a new apartment, M tells me. I’m not even in Chicago proper yet, & I’m hearing about the new place & say Isn’t that something! Maybe they’ll get curtains this time. Though we both know they have nothing. J
& T are the backbone of the restaurant biz, grease twilight-hour shifts, stone feet, expert with the knife. Perpetual boys—bus boy, dish boy, chop boy, here boy, server boy, servant boy. They steal from the tip jar. They’ve got more than one DUI tho they haven’t hit 21. That’s just how it is. They are Valero boys, Minute Man boys, Shell boys. Three job boys. No job boys. They are connoisseurs of the racial epithet, kike for the landlord, spic for the other dishwashers who get paid less. They’re the type to Fuck You Properly, to tell you all the ways they will Fuck You Properly, always from behind, their fingers on your neck. They’re the type of boys who love you for being smart enough to get the fuck out, & love you for being stupid enough to take the Blue Line at midnight to T’s basement to go get high. 2 out of 4 of them were your homecoming dates. Both never graduated. J’s uncle was your driver’s Ed teacher, who let you pass tho you ran a stop & made a deadly left turn, put his hand on your thigh and said I won’t tell anyone if you don’t tell anyone. That’s just how it is. Even your sensitive, math-genius brother is that boy. He’s a mean drunk. Likes to get close when he yells. In November, your littlest brother gets suspended for slamming another boy against a locker. I don’t think you get it. When I think of home I think of J scooping Blue Moon at Peterson’s Ice Cream Parlor, my favorite flavor, the acid indelible blue that’ll stick to your teeth all week. The blue of a newborn boy’s hospital cap, the blue of soldiers’ feet, the blue of the ‘50s blues: Miles Davis, Louie Armstrong, who sang with voices dripping sex & moonlight, bare & rough & beautiful as trees in the winter, & went home every night to take Francis & Daisy & Alpha & Lucille & beat them blue.

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