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T-Shirt


by David James


                                  
If I close my eyes, I can still see him there that first night at Papa Joe's. He walked in, ordered a beer, turned around, stared right at me... and I melted.I remember his black curly hair, his smile. Those dark eyes. I could hear his soft drawl and it was definitely not New Orleans. I guess if I had to describe how I felt as I met his stare, well, I got all damp and turgid. And we met. Bobby. And we starched my sheets all night... and, except for food, all the next day, too. 

Bobby gave me something about two weeks after we met in the Quarter. It was a purple, tie-dyed T-Shirt. He left it in a paper sack on my stoop while I was out at the laundromat. No goodbye, but that was his way. He just dropped it off, got in a cab, got out at Moisant Airport, got on a plane and left... on his way back to Viet Nam. I never saw him again. He stepped on a land mine and came home in a flag draped box.

God, I've never felt that Bobby feeling since. We were just nineteen. I kept his gift.

I still wear it. 

Each time I slip it on I think of Bobby and the time we spent together before he left and died. And I slip it on daily while fixing dinner. And my nipples get hard daily. I only cooked for him twice back then.

In a way, I cook for him now.


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