High on Haight (part six)

Henry sits against a white stone marker high up in San Francisco’s National Cemetery. The marker is one of thousands formed in rows with military precision. They remind Henry of morning formation and he smiles. The grass is freshly cut and the morning dew soaks pleasantly through his pants and wets his legs. The sun is slowly burning through the thick fog.

It’s been two weeks since he’s seen Vargas and Hector and Sun Going Down above the waterfall in the park. Maybe they’ve gone south or east or have been sucked up by the system. The city is angry about all the kids in the park scaring the tourists and the police have been making early morning raids every day because the mayor wants to be the governor.

He drinks Tecate from the can and thinks of Matson, wonders what she’s up to these days. He thinks this would be easier if he believed in a heaven, if she had believed in heaven.

Two park rangers with gold badges and brown hats, who left their white cars with blue lights flashing down on the main road, walk steadily up the hill towards him.

Last Friday he rode a bus down to the library and searched the Internet for her. He read that the Army gave her a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart and promoted her to Sergeant First Class and buried her next to her father in Alabama with full military honors and gave her folded flag to Staff Sergeant Martin because he’s the closest thing to kin she had left. From the computer, she stared out at him smiling, strands of hair in the corner of her mouth, sandbags piled high behind her, helmet under one arm and shotgun in the other. And Henry cried until a librarian suggested he might be more comfortable outside.

They towed his car away three days ago. He’s all out of pot and money and has only four beers left and these he stole from some corner store down in the Mission.

A shadow falls on him and Henry looks up. The ranger’s face is pink and freshly shaved.

Henry finishes the beer and watches a tanker heavy with oil move silently through the Golden Gate from the Pacific and into the Bay heading towards Richmond.

And he waits for what comes next.

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