I can bring you up to date now. Where was I? Right. Gonna look for Mark.
I started at the park where I’d left him sleeping. No sign of him there. I wasn’t surprised. I looked all over downtown, at the hostels, wherever freaks were hanging out. I asked if they’d seen him. Though sometimes I couldn’t tell if they knew who I meant, cause maybe they didn’t know his name. There wasn’t much I could say to describe him different from all the other freaks and runaways and blissed-out kids.
Possibly he’d left town. Gone south like he’d said. California.
Or maybe he was dead, that was possible too. But no one remembered anyone dead the last coupla days. I stood on the Lonnie bridge looking down in the choppy water like I could see him there if he’d jumped. I couldn’t of course. I looked along the shore near there where maybe he washed up. That was kinda pointless, I couldn’t see nothing.
I got a better idea. Just as it was getting late I headed for that beach around the park. What’d they call it? The Third Beach Hotel. How I found him there was kinda funny if it wasn’t pathetic.
He came up to me.
He didn’t know it was me on the boardwalk there by the beach. It was getting kinda murky but that wasn’t it, why he didn’t recognize me. He was out of it. Not stoned, but messed up.
He mumbled something to me through lips that were scabbed over.
I could hardly understand him. He looked like he was gonna fall over — like pass out any moment, he looked so tired and weak. Hardly standing. I didn’t recognize his clothes, they were so tattered, absolutely filthy. He was what my old man called “dirt walking.”
I said, “Mark.”
He made a better effort to bring me into focus and enunciate his words. “Spare any change, man?”
“It’s me. Gus.” Then, naturally, he fell over and passed out.