Strangers in the Night | Our Town | Chicago Reader

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Strangers in the Night

After we got a few things straight, we got along fine.



I left a Saturday-night party at 1 AM and walked to Grand and State to take the el home. The cops had cordoned off the subway entrance, so I walked over to the bus stop.

A hooker, drunk out of her mind, approached me. She got right up into my face and said, "Hi ya, sugar."

I'm gay. I laughed. "You don't know your market very well, do you?"

She stepped back, gave me the once-over, then said, "Oh. Sorry, hon."

"No problem."

She asked me for a dollar.

I politely refused.

"Why not?"

"Because I never give money to panhandlers."

"Hmmmph," she snorted.

"Want a cigarette?" I pulled two out of the pack I'd just bought. One of them had a dark green filter--some sort of advertising promotion, I suppose.

"Green?" she said. "You're giving me a green cigarette? Why, that's bad luck."

I laughed.

"If you give me two cigarettes and one of them is green," she said, "then you have to give me a third cigarette to fix the bad luck."

I smiled and shook my head.

"But it's bad luck, a green cigarette. Come on, give me one more."


She put her hand out.

I stared her down.

She shifted, then leaned against the building next to where I was leaning. After a moment of silence, she nudged me with her elbow and said, "It was a good try though, wasn't it?"

We both laughed.

"You got a light?" she asked.

"No, sorry. I had to bum one myself."

"I got a lighter here somewhere." She began searching all of her pockets. Finally, she pulled the lighter out, and it slipped through her fingers like a goldfish. She made one halfhearted attempt to pick it up, but decided she was too unsteady to bend over. She turned to me and extended the toe of her shoe in the direction of the lighter. She looked me straight in the eye, then regally cocked her head up and to the side.

I laughed and picked the lighter up. As I handed it to her I said, "There you go, princess."

She laughed and said, "Thank you."

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