Chapter Two–The Ave

whale vertebra

Monday morning found me catching the six a.m. Orange Belt Stage arriving in Oakland twelve hours later. A local bus dropped me on famous Telegraph Avenue where street vendors sold their wares; seagulls circled garbage cans, and the street people wore whole wardrobes on their backs.

The cold fog crawled up my skinny ass freezing me in my short shorts. I side-stepped a bleary-eyed hobo meth-head with missing teeth chalking “Guantanamo Berkeley” on the sidewalk while a dude with a long gray hair beard vaped marijuana. It was my first time in Berkeley visiting Emilee who I hadn’t seen since Christmas.

I must’ve looked like an easy target because panhandlers asked me for money five times in the first block. I ducked into a café and asked for their cheapest coffee in their largest cup. I brought it over to a sticky counter and added ¼ cup half-and-half and ½ cup of sugar. Voila! A Lee-a-chino.
Down a side street where houses pressed close together the front yards planted with drought-tolerant weeds. In Porterville, we’d spray that stuff with weed killer. I stopped in front of a white picket fence that looked like broken teeth that circled a whale vertebrae big as a picnic table.

After checking the address, I clumped up the dilapidated stairs and knocked.

Emilee opened the door. “Leelee! Where were you abducted? There’s an Amber Alert out for a green mini-van.”

“I stopped at a Starbucks for my signature drink. Brrrrrr!!!! Do you have something warm I can borrow?”

“You can wear this.” Emilee gave me her wool sweater then took me into their kitchen where she fed me the community dinner of raw food.

Diary, when I first heard about raw food, it scared me. Then I learned it was raw vegetables, so it was okay.

Emilee led me up the stairs lighting the way with a candle. “You’re lucky to get your own room. Normally I’d get $50 a night for it on AirBnB.”


I hafta say, Diary, my “own room” turned out to be a walk-in closet with a mattress squeezed in on the floor. I wasn’t super happy, but all the kale chewing made me tired. I fell asleep on the mattress with my boots on.