That Fire – Sean Thor Conroe
April 13, 2019
Out on my stoop in the dead of night.
Smoking to stimulate the stimulants I just railed.
When I noticed a guy I’d never seen before approaching.
Not carrying anything.
Timed my ‘whatup man’ head nod with when he passed.
He was already looking up when I looked up.
Holding his gaze.
“Got another o’ those?”
“Suuure,” I said, beckoning like Pull up a chair.
He sat on the top of three steps leading up to the stoop.
Level with the stoop.
“Here, have this one,” I said, getting up and handing him the one I’d just lit.
Sat back down, on my chair wedged between the dresser drawers and bedside table I’d found, separately, in trash piles.
Started rolling myself another.
When I looked up again, he was looking up at me again.
Dragging, head tilted, gaze intense.
Like ‘checking me out’ intense.
“Ah, but this moon though, huh?” I said, looking up at the moon.
He looked up at the moon.
After some moments, once I’d gotten my cig going: “ ’You doing out and about this late anyhow?”
“Shoot,” he said, shifting. “You know.”
I looked up.
Like No, not really.
“Just out here trolling?”
“Just out here… tryna get it.”
“You know. That fire. I need that fire.”
“I see,” I said. “That fire, yes.”
“Yo so you stay around here?”
He indicated a direction.
“OK,” I said. “Well hey, what’s your name.”
I looked at him eyes wide.
Like Gotta be kidding me.
“Bro, that’s my name!”
I stood, walked over, and dapped him up before, not knowing where else to walk, returning to my seat and sitting.
“Ess aitch? Ess ee ay?”
“OK. I’m ess ee ay. But hey. Sounds the same, innit”—observing, based on the acceleration of my speech, that the stimulants were hitting.
He smiled, amused.
“So you just out here—”
“Hey,” he said, serious suddenly.
“Whassat?” I said, cocking my head like Come again?
“I said,” he said. “Are you hung?”
He was smiling again.
He nodded down.
“Ah. Like that.” I dragged. “You know. Not so much, honestly.”
“Can I see?”
I let out a laugh. “Nah bro. Nah.”
“I’m really good,” he said. “The best.”
“I believe you.”
He gestured like So what’s the problem?
“That’s just… not my mode right now,” I said.
He stared at me blankly.
After some moments: “So that’s how… You able to survive like that? Doing that?”
He looked down. Shook his head. Sighed.
“I’m able to get…”—he went quiet a sec, rubbing his face, either itchy or distressed I couldn’t tell, before looking up, grinning, and saying, “I’m able to get what I need.”
“Not food…”—the moon and his crackling ember appearing, seemingly suddenly, like the lone lights in an eternal sea of darkness. “But that fire. When I need it, I do what I gotta to get it.”
I considered this a sec.
Then said, “I feel you, bro. I fucking feel you,” taking one final, greedy drag before stubbing out and stuffing the butt into the overflowing butt jar on the bedside table.