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Sansa Jones
Can #6
© 2023 James LaFond
AUG/27/23
The subject is a young black woman, dressed tastefully, wearing jeans and sandals. She seems excited to be interviewed and smiles.
“I’m Sansa Jones of Sacramento, California, by way of Baltimore, Maryland. I attended Mission College in Sunnyvale, California and became employed in Oakland as a clerk at The Waterfront Hotel. Just last year [1] Oakland got horrible. So, due to the events I am about to describe, I now reside in Sacramento, and am now using my hospitality degree to manage Air B&B locations. Thank you so much, for flying me back to Maryland so that I can visit my family.
“So, crime had gotten so bad, I resigned my position at the Waterfront Hotel and was taking the train out of Jack London Square to get to Sacramento, which was to be my new home base as I had contracts on locations in Tahoe and Truckee, Nevada.
“It was about four in the afternoon, cold and rainy, not yet dark, in late November. I was walking down to the square on the bay side. There, across from the Amtrak station and Jack London Square proper, which was a nice place, you cross the tracks by going up a stair, three stories, crossing over in a raised walkway, and then descending down through a tower—I think it might have a clock on it, but I’m not entirely sure about that. Now, I can’t get a stop further up, not even on the light rail. The trains will only open the doors at Jack London Square, and on the light rail down to San Jose, only the one back car. This is because of all of those criminal tweakers out there.
[Muffled prompt.]
“Okay, for you easties like me, we know all about crackheads, even though they have pretty much died out of heart attacks and hard livin’ while heroin addict leaner zombies seem to live forever. Right, a crackhead is up all night, fiending for more crack, stealing this and doing that to get another hit. But tweakers, they are meth-heads, not methadone, but like super crack. For ten dollars, a methhead can tweak out for 24 hours, staying up without sleep, cutting cadalidic converters out of cars, building tree houses with pallets stolen form supermarkets—what have you.
“Tweakers are not just wastrels, but like...fiends, really they are fiends. Zombies are slow, as a general rule, more like a heroin junkie. But tweakers, they are like...more like a werewolf without the hair. Really scary stuff—and on top of that, these people sleep on concrete and asphalt, starve, they’re white for the most part so good with tools and auto-repair, a regular high functioning menace to civilization.’
“Is that good?”
“Anyway, most tweakers avoid hurting civilized folk. But Oakland has become topsey turvey—we even had a black serial killer last year! I mean, when do you see that on a crime drama, right?”
“So there goes little old me, walking across the footbridge to the station with my wheelie-gig carry-on, turn the corner, go through the door, and there they are three scary dudes, a nasty little Mexican and two dirty Caucasians. I mean, they stunk, these dudes were nasty.”
“I say, ‘Can I get by please,’ because they are in my way cooking up their dope. I have a train to catch and they are in my way. But they are silent, and I do not want to to touch them.
“The Mexican, I don’t like they way he’s looking at me. But I figure one of the white guys would be reasonable. So I said, ‘I have a train to catch, could I please get by?’
“One says, “We’ll be done in a half hour. You’re messing with our cook—now go around.”
“I’m angry now, ‘That’s unacceptable! I have a train to catch and this is a mass transit easement, not your private property!’
“The smart white guy, he was bald—the other one was as stupid as the Mexican—he says, ‘So you are a ticketed passenger?’
“So I say, ‘Yes, I am!’
“‘I don’t believe you,’ he says.
“So I take out my ticket from my purse and show it to him and he looks at it while the Mexican is looking at me and the dummy white guy is cooking dope. They are squatting, like Chinese people eating rice out in the jungle, right, cooking this stuff. He reads my ticket and says, ‘Nice to meet you Sansa Jones, and thank you for choosing Amtrak. I see you are bound for Sacramento. That just so happens to be an appealing location for me. In fact, I’ve been feeling a rise in my estrogen levels and have been considering changing my pronoun.’
“He then takes my ticket, my ticket, now in his greasy hand.
“ ‘You can’t do that!’ I say.
“And he grins and stands up and says, ‘I just did. I’m Sansa now. You can be Doug White, okay? How does it feel, Doug? Now get used to that feeling.’
“I was boiling angry now and said, almost yelled, ‘No, that’s not okay!’
“That is when I saw him, coming up the stairs, and Doug, says to him, ‘Can, could you please walk this lady back across the bridge while we finish our cook. I think we’ve got your recipe perfected.’
“Well, he’s black, I’m black, and he seems like a decent dude, so I say, ‘Please, your friend stole my ticket. I have to get on the train. Please, help a sister out, Mister Can!’
“Can seems concerned and starts to step up to Doug, who stands up and he’s a big dude, and says, ‘Can, don’t make me whoop your ass again. Like the last time, so will be the next time. Walk her out.’
“That’s when I saw he had a swollen eye and I felt so bad, so I let him walk me out. Then when we got to the other side of the door I stopped and begged him, ‘Please, Sir, can you get my train ticket back and get me past those men.’
“He seemed kind of weepy and I saw he was prematurely aged, maybe 35 looking like 45 and he said, ‘Miss, maybe once upon a time I could. But they took my Dew.’
“So he explains to me that he needs a can of Mountain Dew to wash down his diet pills when he pipes up his ready rock, and under those conditions he can do anything. But this Doug guy had pretended to be his friend and was synthesizing his recipe—well, forget branding. I figure it is a caffeine thing. So, I have my coffee which has got cold and is still half full and I had one of them bubble gum flavored energy drinks that I keep for emergencies in case I’m nodding out on the train and some creepy man is skulking near. And, I don’t like to admit it, but its hard maintaining a figure after college, so I had a half box of diet pills to his partial and we put it together.
“So he dumps sixteen diet tablets in the cold coffee and downs that—so disgusting.
[Muffled prompt.]
“I counted them—I’m like that. Then he shakes up the carbonated energy drink which has got a target on it like a sniper uses, so can’t be any good for you. He takes out a key and pops a hole in the bottom of the can and plugs the hole with his thumb, which I note is flattened. Then sticks that in his mouth and sucks as it injects him with all that nastiness.
“He was still looking weak, like someone waking up from a long sleep. Then, out comes the crack pipe. It was a traditional glass crack pipe. Maybe, according to what you have heard he smokes out of a soda can. But I think that’s a mix up, because he had a good crack pipe, loaded with three rocks of crack and needed the soda for the diet pill chaser.”
[Muffled prompt.]
“It was just crazy. He got all ashy and started slapping his face with one hand and thumping his chest like a gorilla with the other hand, tears the door off its hinges, and it was a heavy public metal door, just rips it off! Now, the Mexican screamed and ran. The dummy dope cooker looks up in a daze and does nothing.
“And Doug, the Big Man, he says, excuse me, ‘Oh Fuck Me,’ and starts running down the stairs and its a total chimpout—I’m sorry for going there, but this was some animal planet action here. Can dives on this big, bald, white dude’s back from above and smashes his face into the hard wall and is literally ripping pieces off this dude: a finger, an ear, an eye lid and rips his leather jacket in half just like that.
[Muffled prompt.]
“He was not trying to kill him, but frantically looking for my ticket, eyes all bugged out, licking his ashy lips. He ripped a jean pocket off and there he found the ticket. Ticket found, he got calm as could be. He looks up at me and he seemed lost, holding the ticket out.”
[Muffled prompt.]
“It was sad—he was baby lost, like he was new to the world, looking up at me like a toddler had just lost his mother. So, I took his hand and led him down to the station—that dude, Doug might a been dead. The other dude was still cookin’ up the dope.
“We got down to the station and I hugged Can, thanked him and asked him where he was from and he said, ‘Wilmington, Delaware, Miss,’ real respectful like. So, I gave him all the cash I had, and asked him to find a church mission and find his way back to God. Because he was a blessing on me and, wherever he is, I hope God shines a blessing on Can, my personal hero.”
The subject waves, smiling, to the camera.
Notes
-1. 2022, the interview conducted in April 2023
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