Clifford

This evening we found a soaking wet wallet in the street behind the Safeway. It was dark brown and not in bad shape, but almost empty. Inside was a driver’s license, debit card, slip of paper with Keith’s phone number written in pink, a magnet advertising Daisy, an Asian stripper who can be to your room within twenty minutes, and a pawn receipt. As I carefully unfolded the drenched receipt, it tore into pieces in my hands. I did find a number, though, and I called.

When I dialed, the phone rang and a man answered. It was Clifford. Hesitant to talk to me at first, he livened up when I told him I had his wallet. He asked where I found it and what was inside. I told him and apologized for ripping up his pawn slip.

After talking for a minute or two, Clifford said he’d ride his bike up from his apartment on Yakima to get the wallet. I told him to call when he was close. Half an hour later, he called to say he was waiting behind the Safeway.

Clifford was an overly thin man in his fifties. He had no teeth and his face looked as old as my ninety-year-old grandfather. His bike was well-used and he wore a thick coat and winter hat. He had nice eyes and a genuine smile. “I’m gonna have to give you a reward later—when I get paid,” he said. We told him it wasn’t necessary. He was thankful.

Clifford rode off down Sheridan toward 11th and disappeared into the darkness. I wish I had put some money his wallet.

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