Hallowed Sorts
KJ Hannah Greenberg
Hayward Fault Line Winner

I apply more lacquer to the box. I hate varnish, but I want Rosemary to be impressed; my gift features seraphim as well as cherubim. I think she’s enamored of saints, too, but I don’t understand all hallowed sorts - my religion is partying.  

It was at a party that I met that brown-haired beauty. To Rosemary, the smoke out wasn’t considered as a social event, but as a site for proselytizing. For me, the fest was a chance to hotbox without buying. I’m behind in rent; I’ve got nothing extra for cheeba.  

Anyway, that mack mommy was praising the good life to Theo and Jace before I approached. I guess my stagger impressed her.  

She refused the plastic cup I offered, but willingly sat with me in a corner. I ignored my boys’ hoots and whistles. Rosemary is all about propriety and clean living. I still wonder how she wound up at that blowout.  

Anyhow, we were introduced Monday, and it’s now Thursday. Rosemary agreed to meet me in the Multnomah County Central Library. I used my paperclip to ungung my nails. I scraped the goop out of my eyes, too.  

I wish I had a splif to prepare me for our meeting, but I have no more money today than I did Monday. So, I dig beneath my sofa cushions, to collect the $2.50 I need for my trip from St. Johns to City Center. It will take me most of an hour, two buses and a few small hikes to get to the library.  

Before I leave, I check my present, which I wrapped in yesterday’s newspaper. I love that the Portland Tribune continues to print a version and that my neighbors often leave theirs unattended on our stoop.  

Rosemary said something about wanting to vet me in a public place. I think the library, with its many Russian, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Spanish patrons, would make chatting in English a private affair, but I don’t argue with pretty girls.  

A little later, I spy Rosemary outside of the children’s room. She has two spoglings with her. Come to think of it, she’s wearing a gold band. Religious and married with kids! All of a sudden, she looks more like a Mona Bushpig than a chica to me.  

I turn, leave the library, and walk for a while. It’s eight or nine miles to my apartment and I don’t have bus fare.  

Twenty minutes later, at a pawn shop, I trade Rosemary’s gift for three dollars. The dealer, a true saint, has blue eyes, a crooked smile, and smells like pakalolo. I’ll have to return, next week, to redeem what’s due me.  

First published: November 2017
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