"Hey bro, remember me? You wrote that story about me in the paper."
I turn around, and the figure pulls back its hood. He's a year older and sporting tangled cornrows, but of course I recognize the kid. He'd bummed a cigarette off me on a slow night, and we'd talked about how his grandmother had kicked him out of the house for smoking weed, and her fears that he'd become a coke addict like his mom. ( Night Cabbie, WW, May 23, 2007.)
"Yeah, of course! How you doing?"
"I'm good, man, I always wanted to see you again, that shit meant a lot." He tells me his destination.
"So you thought it was fair? Like, accurate?"
"Yeah, dude, that was real. When I read it, I felt it, all that pain I was going through, it was done right."
"Good. I mean that's what I try to do—keep it true to the people I write about and what they're going through." His companion isn't aware of the column, so we explain it to her—me the great artist discussing his work, the kid reflecting on his moment of Willy Week glory.
I'm so high off the positive attention that it's not until we've almost reached our destination that it sinks in that it's 3 in the morning on a weeknight, and I've just driven him from one crack corner to another.
I wish him luck and shake his hand as he gets out of the car. He doesn't meet my eye.