I was sitting in FRED’S HAMBURGERS up on Broadway. The place was named FRED’S, though the proprietor’s name was Pete. It was a long narrow hole in the wall with a linoleum counter top. He’d sell me a styrofoam cup full of red wine for $1.50. It was cheaper than any of the North Beach bars, and he left me alone. Alone to drink the wine and eat the french fries, and let the cunt monkeys run wild through my skull. Look out the greasy window at the never ending stampede. Up until fifteen minutes earlier, FRED’S had been full of young drunken corporate types snurfling up cheeseburgers. These guys were loud and aggressive in order to make a living so they were particularly loud and aggressive when they were drunk. There had been much loud show of how chummy they were with Pete. They were constantly calling him by name, “Hey Pete!”, and pestering him with unimaginative questions about his family, etc. He patiently gave the standard replies with a great and hard boiled humility. One particularly typical guy had brandished a cell phone, called his wife, then insisted at great length that Pete speak on the cell phone to the wife who was at home with their newborn baby. Cheeseburgers destroyed, they left. Leaving me at the counter, and two guys at the back table speaking some language I couldn’t recognize like Tagalog, or Farsi.
“You’re right,” I said to Pete.
“The city is full. Is no room for anybody. These kids, they are having kids. The kids have more kids. Tell me, where will the kids of the kids go? No, don’t tell me. I know, already I know. Another glass of wine my friend?”
“You know, in my country before I came here I thought, ‘America is big! There is room for everybody there. But now I am here 16, 17 years now. There is room for nobody here. I get your wine.”
He put his cigarette out and walked down behind the counter.