One hundred dollars – Michael Griffith

Tomorrow I’m meeting a woman who posts naked photos of herself on Instagram 
and then tells me in texts that she’s plain. 
I googled the modern definition of the word plain 
but my face came in well before hers.
And somewhere above the bats are flying overhead
Like some prehistoric hunger melted into their home
Which is this night,
Which is just another night 
Where this person gets onto my tram.
I call it a person because I can’t tell if it’s a woman or a man 
And she looks like she’s been living in her clothes for a week
They are too big and they are dirty
and her hair is a nest blown free from a broken tree 
in a storm that overlooked me, 
And with a slurpee in her hand she sits in my tram.

At Box hill he just stands on the stop.
So I ask her, do you know where you are, my love?
And she asks, are you heading back?
Yes, but only to the depot. 
And she nods and then looks up to the night 
Where the bats’ wings are horse whispering 
and then she asks me, with her teeth all rotting, 
Is there anywhere there where I can stay?
No. But I can drop you at maccas, 
It’s 24/7.
You can stay there for the night. I don’t think they’ll mind.
And so together we’re now heading back to Kew
And I just don’t know what to do.
If I bring her home my family will go crazy, 
but If leave her here,
And I think she’s only about twenty, 
What sort of crazy Christian soul action is that?
So I ask, do you have any money?
Yes, she says, and she says it politely and to the last of her drink.
Are you sure? I ask, because you don’t look like you have. 
And I can stop at a bank and get you some cash.
And I’ve being privately wondering all the way to here
How much should I give her to placate my soul, 
40 dollars? But then,
Because I’ve been having a good week, that sounds like chicken shit.
So my soul suggests, let’s give her one hundred.
And my brain replies, No! forty is plenty.
And as they fight for a consensus 
My heart turns around and tells her,
Look, let me give you some money.
But she looks up to me and says, No, that’s fine. 
Then she stands at the door and asks, is this stop mine?
And our Golden Arches Church is a candle in her eyes,
Thank you driver, she says after I say, yes.
Then she steps off into the bats’ night
And leaves me heading back home in an empty tram 
To a date who sounds like she is empty too
And the knowledge that inside my secrets I now know,
That I’m never going to become my soul’s man.

Michael Griffith is a Melbourne writer.