Bunny and Hoppy by Rob Rosen
published in Volume 11, Issue 1 on June 28th, 2004A crack ho named Bunny sashayed her tired ass down Twelfth Street near Harrison. It had been a long and aggravating day. She'd already been nearly busted and had made only fifty bucks. Twenty-five was stuck in her ripped garter; the other had gone up her nose. It was one of those days a crack ho was better off staying in bed. Alone. No johns, no dealers, no...men. But men were Bunny's life, or livelihood anyway. And even a crack ho has rent to pay. So...
"Yo, Gimpy, you lookin' for some action?" asked Bunny, as she stared down at a one legged homeless man who had obviously seen better days himself.
"You jokin', lady? I'm lookin' for lunch. I'm looking for a shower. I'm lookin' for a place to sleep tonight. Action ain't high on my list right now," answered the man, very matter of factly. "Besides, you ain't my type."
Bunny thought of a lot of things when she heard his last comment.
She thought about kicking the man hard with one of her cheap stilettos, but thought better of it since it was her last good pair. Actually, her only pair.
She thought about slapping him and telling him where to get off, but her Lee Press Ons were on their proverbial last legs as it was.
She even thought about simply ignoring him and keep on walking, but that wasn't Bunny's style. Yes, even crack hos have their own sense of style, especially Bunny.
Instead, she plopped her tired ass down next to the stranger and started to laugh. A rarity for her.
"You got a type, Gimpy?" she asked, lighting her last cigarette.
"Oh, I got a type, alright," said the man, also lighting his last cigarette.
(Truth be told, they were both better off not smoking. Had they had health insurance or the availability to adequate medical care, they'd both have found that they were already in the early stages of emphysema. But such is life.)
"And what type might that be?" she asked, deeply inhaling her Camel.
"Well, first off, Honey, I dig women," grinned the man.
"Oh child, first off, the name's not Honey, it's Bunny, and second off, Bunny is all woman," she retorted, exhaling in his face.
(Now, in her rattled brain, Bunny might have actually believed this lie, but Bunny was, in all actuality, Marvin. Again, with adequate medical care she could have been, well, a "she", but again, that fantasy had long since passed.)
"Bunny, huh?" smiled the man "Looks like you're rabbit's foot ain't workin' too well."
"Ain't that the truth, Gimpy," she said.
"The names not Gimpy, it's Steve," he said, extending a hand in greeting.
Now that rattled Bunny's bones to the quick. Crack hos aren't generally afforded everyday common courtesies. A hand offered in friendly greeting was something she had not received in quite some time. She was, in her own limited way, touched.
"Steve, huh?" she said, giving him the quick once over. "I'll never remember that. How about...Hoppy?"
To which Steve responded, "Ah, I see you have a predilection for all things lepine."
"Huh?" she asked, not sure if she was being insulted or not.
"You dig rabbits."
"Oh, sure, whatever. Besides, pardon my rudeness, but Hoppy seems...uh...appropriate."
"True," Steve smiled again. "Well, I suppose Hoppy it is then. Please to make your acquaintance." Again he shook Bunny's hand and again she was touched by the gesture. Maybe her day was looking up.
Actually, crack hos rarely have days that look up. Generally, they have bad days or worse days. Bunny's were generally bad, but South of Market trade was fairly consistent and mostly docile. She made her own hours and had no need or want of a pimp. She shared her turf with a few other "ladies" and that was fine all the way around. In short, her life could have been worse. In short, it could have been Steve's.
For even though her life was shit, she did have a roof over her head, a fairly steady income and easy availability to cheap crack. All things a successful crack ho desires. Steve, on the other hand, was homeless, penniless and, well, quite legless. One leg less to be exact. Gangrene had taken that from him several years earlier. And South of Market wasn't as kind to him as it was to Bunny, though it was quieter and safer than downtown. In other words, things never looked up for Steve.
The next day, Bunny tricked three times in two hours. This was considered a boon in her business. That meant rent, a bag of blow and lunch. Though the crack generally kept her away from large meals more than a few times a month.
"Yo, Hoppy, what's shakin'?" she asked, retaking her seat from the previous day.
"My bones," he replied, looking sad. "Fuckin' San Francisco weather."
"Amen to that, Hoppy. Would some lunch help?"
"Well, today's been good to Bunny and I have two extra pieces of fried chicken and a half bottle of whiskey. Would that help them bones?"
He nodded and his grin returned. Bunny liked it when he grinned. She saw men's faces in all sorts of contortions, but a grin, or at least a non lascivious grin, was rarely one she got to see much of these days. It was a warm respite in her otherwise dreary life.
"Good chicken," Steve said, fairy devouring it.
"The Colonel knows his chicken, Mr. Beam knows his booze," she replied, keenly aware that she had made her first joke since she could remember.
"And you've got a customer," he said, pointing to a car that had pulled up as they sat there and ate.
"Well, Lordy be," Bunny said, jumping up and wiping her hands on her mini. "It's raining men today."
"Hallelujah," Steve said, wiping his face with his sleeve.
This "relationship" went on for several weeks. Actually, it was the highlight of both Bunny and Steve's days. Bunny rarely if ever talked to her johns, except to say, "That'll be twenty." and nobody ever talked to Steve, even when they threw him a nickel or a dime. Except for his interactions with Bunny, he was, strictly speaking, a non-entity. So the two of them formed a sort of bond. A friendship, if you will.
"Hey, Hoppy, how about a ham sandwich today?" she asked, taking her now regular place on the sidewalk.
"Sure. Might you have some Gray Poupon for that?"
The joke was lost on her, but she smiled anyway. Steve's jokes almost always went over her head, but she loved the way he grinned when he said them. No one had ever told Bunny to always look on the bright side of life, but Steve had seen it in a movie once and it must have stuck. It was, after all, fairly gray most of the time down in their neck of the woods, and he still managed to smile whenever possible. Now Bunny managed one every day, though only with Steve.
"Nice day today, Hoppy," Bunny said, still grinning.
"Nicer than most," he agreed.
And just before she got up to leave, they heard an alarm going off down the street at The Eagle. Years on the street had taught them to hate that sound. It meant that cops would be nearby soon and cops were not their friends. Cops treated them worse than anybody else.
"Look," Steve said, pointing up the sidewalk.
They both watched as a man ran towards them, a bag in one hand and a gun in the other.
"Fuck," they said in unison.
And then a funny thing happened.
The man, obviously unaware of the homeless man and the crack ho sitting on the sidewalk, kept running at full speed right in their path. And then "Splat", down went the thief, his gun flying in front of him and his bag flying behind him. Given the layout, it wasn't all that surprising that he jumped up, grabbed the gun and continued to run forward. Thieves rarely go in reverse.
Bunny sat there dumbfounded and Steve sat there laughing his ass off.
"What's so funny?" she asked, standing up and going towards the bag.
"You know what irony is, Bunny?" he asked her, tears streaming down his face.
"No, what?" she asked, opening the bag.
"Being tripped by a one legged man. That's irony, Bunny."
"How about having a bag of money fall into your one legged lap? What's that called?" she asked, opening the bag for Steve to see.
He stopped laughing long enough to take a look and to notice the sound of sirens approaching.
"That?" he said, untying the cord around his pants where his leg used to be. "That's God's way of saying, .Enough'."
Bunny, though not usually one to catch on fast, saw what Steve was up to and quickly bent down and started stuffing the money into his open pants leg. It was more money than either had ever seen and it fit nicely down the usually empty leg of his jeans. And then, with the pants retied, they repositioned themselves on the sidewalk and waited for the inevitable. Five seconds later, the cops came blaring by.
Bunny and Steve both recognized the pair that pulled along side them and they, in return, recognized Steve and Bunny. And they knew that Steve and Bunny weren't the white perpetrator with long blond hair that they were now looking for.
"Which way?" asked the cop that was driving.
"He went thata way." Bunny pointed in the exact opposite direction the thief had run.
"Fuck .em," she said, as they sped away.
"Fuck .em indeed," Steve said, patting his leg.
A month went by since that fateful day. The two of them, being the friends that they were, gladly split the money, which was several thousand dollars plus some change, and then they quickly went their separate ways. Because, though thieves rarely go in reverse, they frequently do return to the scene of the crime. Especially if they've left their loot behind. And Steve and Bunny were well aware of this.
And then that was that.
Bunny took a break from the crack and the streets and Steve found a shelter with a locker and a dead bolt. When God says, "Enough", he means it!
And life went on. And Bunny still smiled from time to time. And Steve never stopped grinning since that day. And there were two less people South of Market. And then...
"Can I bum a cigarette, man?"
Steve looked up from his coffee and his paper and thought he recognized the handsome man standing before him.
"Sure, you smoke Camels?"
"You know I do," the man said with a wink.
"Name's Marvin," said the man as he took the cigarette in one hand and held out his other hand in greeting.
"My friend's call me Hoppy," the other man said as he shook Marvin's hand.
"Hmm. You don't look like a Hoppy. How about...Steve?"