by Johnny St. Clair
the car was warm and i may have nodded off for a few minutes, but certainly not more than that. there was a distant, polite tapping on my window.
“are you on?” he said.
i said i was and unlocked the back door and watched as he settled in to the back. i’d seen him somewhere before.
“familiar face,” he said and then asked if i minded turning down the radio. he wound down the rear windows and let in the cold air. he wanted to head crosstown but there was a water main break and the crew had traffic blocked in both directions. the lady with the sign hollered that it would be another five minutes. i was beginning to spin the car around and cut down an avenue when he said that it was no matter to him. he was in no hurry and didn’t mind waiting.
“listen to her. the city breathing,” he said.
“do you mind if i use the phone?”
“sure,” i said. he reached down below the seat and began dialing what sounded like a rotary phone. he came up with an army green handset and a spiral cord.
“hello,” he said, “this is mister jones…yes…i’m trying to reach tomorrow. can i get in touch with tomorrow? yes…i suppose i’ll hold, but i’d rather not. i’m trying to reach tomorrow…yes…yes, i suppose…but i'm just tryin' to reach tomorrow. can i get through to tomorrow?” soon, he would nod and hang up.
and when we were nearing the end of the ride, he was sitting next to me, and he said, “"well Johnny, sincerity's the best gimmick. remember that."
and i said something like, "all right…be sincere, that'll win it? i never tried that."
he laughed and told me to put the bill on his tab.
Johnny's not sure, but he thinks that guy might've been Jesus.