It was from B.: "I need you to come over and take me by Jimmie's place. It's an emergency."
I told him the truth: "I'm parked away from the car. I'll be there in half an hour." And dragging my body out of the seat, I started the long trudge back to the center of town.
It isn't the first time I've had to take B. "by Jimmie's place." It never happens at a good time of night, and it never ends well. B. and Jimmie have a brotherly love for each other that's just fine with B. trolling his brother, and Jimmie cursing him out - that's on good nights. The last time I was down there, it involved gathering up B.'s extended family to go over there and try to persuade Jimmie, and his drunken wayward son who'd done some property damage and disturbed the peace, to react in a way that wouldn't result in an arrest. (And to persuade the cops to try and handle this in a way that wouldn't end in an arrest.) We failed. It involved OC getting used.
I called B. again to ask him about the nature of his emergency. He wasn't happy to hear about it. Never mind that I was underfed, and missing on a lot of sleep, and probably dehydrated too, and never mind that I was walking back to the car and had nothing else to do: aside from assuring me that I wouldn't get shot, he wasn't amused that I was trying to scope out the situation I was going into. That assurance did nothing to comfort me: Jimmie does own guns. I was fucked.
I called Mom to bitch about it; and when that was done, I simply called on God for something.
I called B. at 10:23 to let him know that I was pulling into the parking lot, and to be ready. I parked outside the door a few minutes over half an hour after I'd answered the call. That was when the twist came: B. came out and passed me a few bills for gas, and somebody else came out with him: a graying white dude built like a basketball player, who had to pull his knees up a bit when he sat down in the passenger's seat.
Past the first stoplight, as I started auto-navigating towards the routes that have the least traffic and the fewest cops after 10:30, we had the following exchange:
Me: "So, this isn't a medical crisis?"I wasn't fucked. I'd just been, once again, pried away from my creature comforts. I wasn't an emergency responder; I was going to be a glorified chauffeur.
Me: "And it's not a domestic dispute?"
I have no idea what his name was, but of all the passengers I've had thrust upon me by virtue of car ownership, he was probably the best. He asked me about my music tastes - seemed to know a fair bit about it, although he was poppier than I was - and I told him a fair bit.
I gave him a run-down of my tastes. Who do you like? Frank Zappa, first and foremost. Seventies guy? You might say that. Any others? Frank Marino and Mahogany Rush, he overplays but I like his overplaying. Stevie Ray Vaughan? White blues for me was perfected in Rory Gallagher. Blue Öyster Cult? Yes. Also Thin Lizzie was consistently great (although I forgot to name-check Black Rose and Thunder and Lightning.) And so forth. Whiled away the twenty minutes it took to get him to his house, because his ride had fallen through and his son's college tuition depended on him being there first thing in the morning.
He handed me a fistful of dollars when he got out of the car, and I drove home and had some words with B., that emergency is when LEOs or EMTs get involved. My passenger's staying the night wasn't an option, but if there's no medical crisis or domestic disturbance, it's not an emergency, it's urgent.
There was a happy ending, when I managed to make B. laugh for at least ten minutes nonstop until he hurt his shoulder again; but that's all that needs to be said about that.