He taught me how to read people’s eyes.  It was an accident, of course.  I mean, what happened wasn’t an accident, but he didn’t mean to teach me anything by it.

I met him in, well, you know.  The usual.  I heard it used to be arcades, but nobody goes to arcades anymore.  I don’t even know where you’d find one.  Kids with money, you know who I mean, citizens’ kids, they got Xbox or stuff like that.  So this guy, I met him at the bus stop.

It’s an ok place, the bus stop.  You don’t look like you’re loitering, and in the winter some of em have those heater things up above.  Don’t stay on long enough to take a nap, but you can get a little of the cold out of your hands.  That’s good, cause they don’t like it when your hands are too cold.  Winter.  The season of blowjobs.

Didn’t think he was a john though.  Joey calls em “uncles.”  Stupid.  Anyway.  He started out okay, sat down far enough away, all that.  Then he said all that stupid shit that social workers say.  You know, about how there’s alternatives, and whatever I’m running from, I could be running to something instead, and there’s second chances and what the fuck ever.  Second chances, those are for citizens too.

But it was cold, you know?

So, fuck it, whatever, sometimes shelters aren’t so bad.  I don’t have a dog or anything, not like some of the guys do.  It’s the showers that get me.  Some of those places though, you can shower alone.  Like, really really alone, not just curtains or whatever.

So I figured I’d listen to him spew about Jesus or whoever, nod my head, get warm and maybe even clean.  He didn’t sit funny, like some of the cops do when they offer to trade you instead of bust you.  He didn’t have gear too fancy for his story.  He looked ok.  The words were right.

I should’ve looked at his eyes, is all.

They never smiled when his mouth did.  They just watched me, like he was listing up all my answers and figuring out the next question.  Tricky like those stairs that you can climb forever and never reach the top, at the carny funhouse in the summer.

The only question I ever wanted to ask him was the one I knew better than to ask.  Nobody ever answered me why and you know he wasn’t gonna be the first.  Didn’t pay me, neither.  Some of em do, you know.  After, I mean.  Fucker.

So you gotta watch their eyes.  That’s how you get to be twelve.