Jesus’ Tears at the Corner of Piety and Desire

I stood at the food truck parked along the curb on St. Claude between Piety and Desire. It was late and dark, and a group, impatient, shuffled beneath a street light waiting to order. A woman served from the food-truck window. She looked about twenty-years-old. She had one brown eye that moved and one milky faded-blue eye that didn’t. She leaned out. Rubber bands held fistfuls of thick brown hair. To the tip of each fistful she had clipped plastic butterflies, the colors of crayons in a basic box of Crayola.

“I’m closed now,” she told the people behind me. “He’s my last.”

Then she reached out and handed a barbecued pork chop to me. I hadn’t ordered it. She had wrapped it, dripping with sauce, in a slice of white bread.

“I’ve seen you,” she said. The milky faded-blue eye stared at me. The other floated, taking me in, round and round and up and down. “You taste Jesus’ tears in your sins, don’t you?”

“I’m sorry?” I said.

“I’ve seen you” she repeated, “and you taste Jesus’ tears in your sins.”

For no reason, I felt found out, seen for the first time. I ate the pork chop and wiped off the sauce on my face with what was left of a copy of the Times-Picayune I found in a trash bin. I walked into the Sandpiper Lounge, across from the truck, and watched her from behind a curtain pulled across the front window. After a while, I took a metal folding chair leaning against the wall, opened it and sat down.

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