Jordan picks us up in a Subaru that you can smell the remnants of a wet dog in.
“You’re my first of the day” she tells us. “I woke, and then bingo, you popped up.”
She lives just around the corner in the trailer park.
“So, you guys Australian?”
“English,” I say. “Portland’s been good to us.”
“It’s a beautiful place,” she says. “Even the surrounding areas are just beautiful.”
Aja says, “Well, we were going to go to Salem for the witch trials and all that, but we haven’t got time now.”
“You guys into that stuff?”
“Kind of. More the movie side of it or whatever.”
Jordan says, “I was actually in the Portland Paranormal Society.”
“Really? Did you go to the Crystal Ballroom? Some Irish friends told us about it. Said it was haunted.”
“Hell yeah. I was there and I felt some shit in the bathroom. Some crazy shit. But I had to give that up because my dad got murdered in Texas.”
“That’s awful. Sorry.”
“Yep. I got a call and I was there within the time it takes to drive. I got there and the couch where he was murdered had absorbed all his blood. I needed to get that couch out of there because of the stuff I was picking up from it- crazy stuff- but the homicide detectives wouldn’t allow it. I had to sleep on the kitchen table because I arrived there with only twenty bucks in my pocket. When I was talking to the cops I could hear my dad in my other ear saying, “You go get ’em girl. Get the ones that did it.”
We’re in a cab, driving toward town.
Our driver is a man in his sixties with a snow-white beard and baseball cap. He looks like Alvin from The Straight Story. He tells us:
“It was construction was what I worked in. Thirty years. See those cranes there? I used to build ’em. Awful job. And the unions didn’t get a look in. Had what they call union busters walking around. You get caught trying to form a union, it’s curtains.”
“Anyway I ended up having a heart attack. And while I was recovering, the day after, literally, the insurance company was ringing me saying, ‘How’re you gonna pay for this operation?’ Crazy. A hundred and fifty thousand dollar debt on my deathbed. I had to file for bankruptcy right there. What’s the place y’all going to?”
“You know it?”
“’Bout five or six blocks. Surprised you’re not going to the Voodoo Donut place.”
“It’s nearby. Beautiful donuts. It always comes in a pink box. An’ I guess there’s some crazy ways they make some of ’em. Dropped many a people off there. But there’s times when there’ll be a line right to that car over here.”
“Really? Have you had one?”
“I’ve only had one kind of ’em. And it’s because I picked these people up that had a motor home. An’ they didn’t wanna drive it through traffic. They got out and asked would I wait on ’em while they went in. Said yeah, I’ll wait on ’em. They said, well what kind do you want? I said, I don’t want no kind just go in and enjoy yourself. They said, well you gotta get somethin’. I said O.K. I heard there’s one, ah, with a maple syrup base on the top and bacon across it.”
“They said, well we’ll git you one of them then. And it was good. It was rich, but good. Ain’t nothing like that in Oklahoma.”
“Why’d you move up here?”
“Well, my wife’s daughter had a baby. And it’s her first grandchild. They lived in California. Now three women in my life have tried to kill me. Seriously. And two of ’em were Californians. I told my wife, I said I’d rather get a divorce than move to California. So here I am, driving cabs in Portland, Oregon.”
Nick Power is a poet from Hoylake. His latest collection Bright Angel Proof is available from erbacce press.