I’m writing a letter at a table in a dive bar.
It’s high noon on a weekday.
A B-Western plays on television.
The Doors play on the jukebox.
Gamblers gamble at slots.
A man bolts into the bar, a local tweaker.
We know each other. He’s asked about writing. He once told me a priceless Oregon dog story that I used in a book.
He keeps a journal and writes fantasy stories.
He shows me some chapters on his phone. He shows me where he writes at home.
He never writes when tweaking.
He started using again.
He doesn’t tell me that.
But he’s sitting right across from and I know enough to know. He knows I know and our eyes don’t meet.
He presents a folded napkin to me.
He unfolds it and reveals agates, collected that very morning while tweaking.
I also see two tiny packets of something. He doesn’t comment on them.
No one gives meth to someone writing a letter in a dive bar.
Maybe someone just did.
He thanks me for always talking to him. I thank him for the agates. He leaves. He’s always respectful of my time when I write at the table, which is every time I’m here.
I place the agates on a shelf of the lending library behind me.
I toss the tiny packets in the garbage without opening them up.
I start writing again, but not the letter.