People ask me what it's like to pick up cons straight outa prison, and I tell 'em: it's a livin. They got someplace they gotta go, and I gotta pay the bills. So I take 'em.
Most of 'em just want to smell some fresh air but get freaked out when things is too open. Like if you ever saw a cat just got outa the pound and you let it outa its carrier in your house, it cowers and don't like it. Sometimes runs right back in even though it's been hollerin to get out the whole ride home. Cons is like that.
Low Jack was the first con I ever picked up. He just shaved for the trip into town and even though he didn't get out much, he had that dark skin, like when somebody puts a lotta cream in their coffee and you could see he'd shaved because the skin was so light. He said thank you real quiet when I let him off at the transfer station. I wondered for a long time whether he made it on the outs but I dunno.
Dino was gruff and had a scar in the corner of his mouth that looked like he'd got caught on a fish hook. Maybe he did.
Stanley was a old man and looked real sad and lost.
Sometimes I get names, sometimes I make 'em up.
Brandy used ride my route to visit Guth once a month. Never had the guts to ask her about conjugals but she sure got dolled up like something was gonna happen. She was a hair dresser and musta had a hundred ways to fix herself for visits. Always wondered when he'd get out and whether I'd be able to tell it was him, but I never did. She just stopped comin after bout a year and half of it. For all I know he was Stanley. But I don't think so.
Charlotta drags four kids on the bus with her. Grabs whatever skinny freckled arm is right there and drags 'em along. Those kids is skinny but you can tell they're scrappy by the way they look her right in the eye when she pulls 'em close and says "you mind, y'hear?" 'cept the youngest. That one don't look no one in the eye or fight or nothin. I wish she'd leave that one with a friend or somethin because she just looks like she'll shatter if she don't get a good daddy hug soon.
Terrel is mentally retarded. Takes a few minutes ta figure it out but when he pulls the stop string the fourth time, I figure him for slow. When we get to the transfer station, I walk him to the place he needs to wait for his next bus.
Little J is all gold shine and swagger like he's going to the strip club on the bus. Somehow I don't think this is his first time. Why he didn't get a taxi or a friend makes me scared to see what happens when he gets off the bus. Like maybe his chickens is coming home and I don't want to be there if that happens. But nothin happens.
Sometime folks ask me if I'm scareda the cons but that always seemed silly to me. They come out lookin tough and lost at the same time. Or tougher but you know they don't know which way's up and if you just give 'em someplace safe to cower till they're ready, they'll come out eventually. It'll be a while before mischief sniffs them out. At least 24 hours anyway.