He had lost an eye. Though, its orb still in its socket had turned a blurry blue, misty, had developed a different kind of sight. It was a pain experienced through years of looking, looking, searching. A pain no one could comprehend. Not even himself.
This pain had the temper of a two-year-old, set off by triggers and misperceptions from a wayward stare to a misconstrued comment. Violence shot out of him, red, hot, stinging. I noticed when in this rage, his long hair, parted in the middle, changed as if it were caught in a hurricane, but in slow motion. After an episode, strands of it would appear jagged, outliers of the smoothness of his mane. I thought the streets had done this to him. I was wrong and I was right.
He was never really made up of the streets. The streets were made up by him. An Old Town that used to be, a November rain, black kids selling stripped-down crack cocaine, a fifth of rut gut, sloppy punk shows no one would remember, dayglo artists nailing canvases onto walls of plywood painted black, goth girls looking at themselves in mirrors, only their hands moving, not their bodies. Everything was never moving.
As I looked at his dead eye, lost in a random fight, I felt his frustration, his fear, his hopelessness. And even though he irritated me to no ends, I saw how vulnerable he was.
We took long walks along the Deschutes where few were allowed to go. He was different there. We talked of steelheads and Chinooks. We visited Chuck and listened to metal so loud, the desert lost its hearing. We picked up arrowheads and threw them back to where we found them, to sage and grass. And along this desert river, that twisted like snakes through dry canyons, both sides of its banks scarred, we hung on to ourselves (though there were reasons to lose our minds) right down to where it met the Columbia.
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