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Story by Bob Arter (Read author interview) September 15, 2005

Art by Marty D. Ison

White boy hanging on the corner, Haight Street and Ashbury, want to hear the jazz but he don’t want to pay. Top half of door at the Be Bop Factory stand wide open, squealing trumpet penetrate his longhair head and he tap a toe and hope he pass for cool. He just score an ounce of oregano from a skin-popper in a doorway, pale in the moon sing! pale in the moonlight—he got a beat now, tap the toe of his Tony Lama and light a Lucky.

Light go red and Mr. Suburb push off the curb, stroll easy by the bumper of a truck full of slot machines, little hop when the driver gun the engine. Other side there’s a stand with a sign say RIBS. Which the boy understand to mean soul food. Thinking, corn bread and greens, now, what the hell they call them pig guts?

“Bacteria,” say the fat black man behind the counter as he heap cardboard boxes full of steaming, stinking hog intestines. “You taste yourself some of this pig bacteria, you never gonna want nothing else. That about right, Art?”

“Gospel,” say a pipestem-thin black man tearing pork from bone. “Ain’t nothing like it.” Both men laugh and the fat one put all the boxes in a bag, say “Call it twenty dollar, son.”

White boy’s eyes open wide as he reach for his wallet. “Expensive town,” he say, thinking of the oregano. “How you black folk afford this stuff?”

“Welfare,” Art say, cackling. “We welfare millionaires, child.”

About the Author

Bob Arter lives and writes in Southern California. His stuff has appeared, or soon will, in Zoetrope All-Story Extra, The Absinthe Literary Review, Painted Moon Review, Lit Pot, Ink Pot, Night Train, and elsewhere.

About the Artist

A native of Ohio, Marty D. Ison lives with his wife transplanted in the sands of the Gulf of Mexico. He studied fine arts at Saint Petersburg College. In addition to the visual arts, he writes poetry, short stories, and novels. See more of Ison’s work here.

This story appeared in Issue Ten of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Ten

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