Jamie was a mechanic who didn’t have a job
lived with his mom at thirty
traveled the uneven streets of Billings, Montana
in a late 90s model beater breaking down
in the parking lot of a Lucky Lil’s
where his girlfriend worked
the swing shift
as an assistant manager
polishing keno machines and pouring drinks
for the hypnotized, the sore losers, and the too-talkative,
those who had a line ready for every occasion;
on the dash
or to generalize in a way that seemed like wisdom taken,
short and round, a tooth out of place
her hair in a ponytail, pulled away from
her square face and slumped shoulders
she lived in the basement with him,
and her daughter was five back in Fromberg,
in a trailer with her ex
except for two days every other weekend.
Jamie wanted a Mountain Dew and to hit for 9
when I clocked in for my shift,
my Assist put on a shuffling windbreaker
and let her hair down limp.
Her father called drunk looking for her.
Outside the main door she was on the phone
waiting for Jamie.
His twenty spent, he fixed his car
next to the pothole he used for an ashtray
and backed out on a trail of fluids
that leaked from his gaskets.
I don’t remember much but one other thing:
“No one is going to help you; you have to help yourself”
sounded so sad when spoken
by a young woman named Charity.