It’s time. Salazin isn’t here. I’m not surprised, but I’m sad and disappointed. He said he wouldn’t be here, and he isn’t, but I’m still sad and disappointed.
His first words to me were, “I need money.”
I ignored him. Salazin is broad shouldered and muscular, and doesn’t seem to have any hair that I saw. Black and shiny, he looks almost inky blue in some light. That’s why I ignored him. I try to be hip and cool, but I’m too much like Dad. Black people scare us when we’re alone. I didn’t realize that. I learned that of my Dad and myself almost twenty years later: black people scare us when we’re alone.
Salazin thrust a hand out at me. “Hello.” He grinned with porcelain white teeth. His teeth always amazed me. “I am Salazin.”
Shaking his hand to be polite, I said, “That’s nice.”
Besides being afraid of Salazin because he was black and muscular (and also spoke with an accent) and I was alone, I was not a happy camper. A month away from graduating high school, I worked at the new Home Depot part time, the same place where Dad worked in the evening.s Dad was six months away from retiring from twenty years in the Air Force. The second job was needed to meet our nut. California was expensive that way. Besides Dad’s military job in civil engineering and his Home Depot job, Mom took classes at the community college, and was a security guard there at night, and helped another woman sometimes with her business cleaning houses.
Heather broke up with me a month before, right after Prom, and I was looking forward to taking classes at the same school as Mom. I had no idea what I wanted to do. I was smoking a little grass, drinking some, and sometimes smoking cigarettes. I wasn’t big, very good looking, or smart, and had no talent for anything that anyone had found yet.
It was depressing to realize these things about yourself. The thing is, if you’d asked me about it then, I would have called bullshit on you with great defiance. It took me about ten years to realize those things about myself, too.
Salazin said, “What’s your name?”
“Dylan.” Mom had name me after the poet.
“Dylan.” Shaking my hand hard and grinning, Salazin said, “I need money.”
He moved to my table. “I know the stock market.” As he talked, he pulled a folded piece of pocket from his pants, unfolded it and spread it out on the table. “Look at these stocks. If we could buy them, we can make a fortune.”
Salazin kept talking while I shook my head and laugh to myself. First pause in Salazin’s spiel, I said, “I don’t have money for the stock market. I’m saving my money to buy a tank of gas so I can go to work.” Truth.
“Then you need to buy these as much as I do,” Salazin said.
“Look,” I said, channeling Dad in one of my most pathetic, chickenshit moments, “if you need money, get a job and save some. That’s how it works in America.” Then I got up, said, “I have to go to fucking work,” and left.
Salazin didn’t give up. He was there every day. Asking, why me, I think the answer is because he knew I wasn’t too smart. He kept fucking at it, telling me, “Take this paper and look at these stocks. We can make money with them.”
I finally took his paper to shut him up, folding it up and shoving it in my pocket to die. I also changed coffee shops because I didn’t want to see him again.
Then I graduated with my barely B average, got more hours at Home Depot, and Grandpa Paul died.