Sometimes Joseph cannot hold a pen for the notes he takes of the books he does not finish. People think he’s a bad guy; he thinks he is because of it. Many have seen Joseph’s pain in the layers of stressed and shadowed skin under his eyes. Sadness seems to leave so many creases. I don’t think he’s ever sober; I don’t think I am, ever. Joseph will get there first. Even if it’s just a couple dollars more. This week I think the book is McCarthy—Child of God. He’s made it to page 101. I’d cry if he finished.
Joseph could play the piano as if he packed concert halls: the convoluted and jumbled off key is in a nostalgic beauty like when you remember something that you can’t quite remember all the way. His fingers piece it out. The song’s already there. It’s cautious but deliberate. I just help him with the money. Which is bouncing around like juvenile, pursed lips. It’s harder to look us in the eye if we’re looking up to you. That’s when the pressure is revealed in the permanence of mapped dark circles and bags. Let’s talk business. That’s what it comes to, right? Joseph’s never dry. Ain’t nothin’ to worry about.