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Reader to Reader 

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Excuse me?" she said, waving to get my attention. It was a weekday afternoon, and the woman was standing in the street next to a rusty blue sedan, parked on Ashland just south of Division. By the open passenger's-side door stood a young man. "Excuse me?" she repeated. I knew I shouldn't, but I stopped. They looked harmless.

She walked to the back of the car. "I am Maria," she said in a thick accent. I smiled as I shook her outstretched hand. "This is Jorge," she continued, motioning to her companion. He offered a weak handshake, looking at the ground. "And we," she finished emphatically, "are drunk."

After a long pause I finally said, "Really." They seemed sober to me.

"Yes, we are drunk." Another pause as she waited for me to say something. I looked at the keys in her hand. "Well, you probably shouldn't drive, then."

"No," she replied quickly, shaking her head. "We are going to the Jewels, then to his house, right?" She looked at the young man, who nodded, still staring at his feet.

"Oh," I said, waiting for the hook: a request for money, for bus fare, I figured.

"OK. Nice to meet you," Maria said suddenly, heading back to the driver's-side door.

"Yeah," I said as I started to walk away quickly. "Have fun."

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