Joseph was told to meet at 8 pm on the corner of San Pedro and Second streets and to bring several quarters. He stood on the steps of a Japanese bank for about 10 minutes, watching sporadic customers use the ATM. He didn’t mind. He wasn’t lonely. He was accustomed to the feeling of being alone and long before distinguished that feeling from the feeling of loneliness. He thought about how strange it was to be meeting a girl he met just the day before, and how strange it was that he met anyone new at all.
He hadn’t many friends and it didn’t matter. Sometimes he felt a blank page was his best friend, its empty surface reflecting his face.
A series of cars flew by, the shine of their headlights lingering, and then it was still. A white car—American– parked at the parking meter closest to him. The engine quieted and the headlights turned off. The interior lights turned on and he saw a girl pull down the mirror and fix her lipstick with her left pinky. She opened the door and he could hear the bing-bing-bing–door-is-open sound. Mary finally got out and asked Joseph if he brought the coins.
“Yes. You said four, right?”
“Can you put them in the meter?”