"Yeah, I did. I was able to—I had another one on the way out the door. Damn, man. Gave me another one on the way out the door."
We pull up at the ramshackle house and step into a blinding afternoon, 97º, vibrating with the song of cicadas. Pop carries the pizza box in one hand and the bag of King Cobra and cigarettes in the other. We walk toward the picnic table under the spreading oak, where several ragged men cool their heels in the fine gray sand. Collectively they are known as the Oak Tree Boys. They are here morning and night. Some are homeless. One has a wild shock of white hair and another is missing his middle lower teeth, so he seems to have fangs. They have nowhere else to go. Pop lets them stay here. He still gives what he can.
Pop opens the pizza box. The fanged man takes two pieces. The third goes to the wild-haired man, who gobbles most of it and flings the crust in the street. Two seagulls swoop in and finish it off. Pop opens the King Cobra and takes a long pull. He hands the sweating bottle to his adopted brother and roommate, Bob Wells, who takes his own gulp.
"Hey, Coach," one of the men says out of the blue, "was you the one who cut Jordan?"
Pop's medicine will be gone in 10 minutes, taken mostly by others, finished by the fanged man, empty bottle thudding to the cool gray sand.
"No," Pop says. "It's a lie that you continue to tell."