Sunday, April 30, 2006

Verbosely Swift

I have been rather under the weather these past few days so haven’t been out of the house much to generate and write more tales about the gang. I have to work early tomorrow morning and then will have Tuesday off. I plan on camping down at the river with Ferret tomorrow night and showing him some of the things I did to make my homelessness more comfortable with regards to living in a tent. That should generate some interesting writings for tomorrow and Tuesday. Who knows what the rest of the week will bring. Such is the willy-nilly nature of life.

I do appreciate the comments. I do want to add that my last post was not intended to portray that we to prohibit alcohol like we did in the twenties. That little experiment in puritanical fervor ended in utmost failure. I believe that the so called “War on Drugs” should be the thing that is abolished. Whether or not to use a substance should be up to the individual and not some large entity as the majority or the government. If you place a prohibition on beverage grade alcohol then you would most likely have more men/women such as Ferret drinking mouthwash to get their fix. I won’t go into a long diatribe about my ideas on this. I just know I have struggled with addiction with most of my adult life and the only thing that made me stop was me. It really boils down to that simple fact.

Look for the Ferret and Andrew camping adventure on Tuesday.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

The Mouthwash Experiment

I was thinking tonight of my mouthwash experiment earlier this week. What stupidity would drive me to do such a thing? I was looking at the back of the empty bottle a moment ago noting all the various “antiseptic” chemicals that are supposed to kill germs and freshen my breath and mouth. All I could think of was the millions of liver cells I destroyed and cleansed out of my system in the process.

I mainly wanted to walk in the shoes of these interesting characters I write about. How can one man understand another man’s alcoholic dilemma if he never walks a day in his shoes? What would ever drive a man to do such a thing as drink mouthwash? Alcoholism, that is.

My father often told me tales of his uncles becoming so desperate for alcohol that they would drink nail polish remover and vanilla extract. I always thought he was just crafting tall tales about his uncles; tales to scare a young child into refraining from the substance in later years. Now, I see he was telling the truth.

The sad truth is that alcoholics will do anything to get their fix even if it means a quick end of life much as the iceheads and crackheads with guant eyes and sad faces I see inhabiting the rundown majority minority neighborhood near my house. Alcohol is just as much as a destructive drug and can be abused just as easily as those drugs we have been so brainwashed into beliving are so illegal and detrimental to us. But you can buy alcohol on almost any street corner in this small town I live in. Clerks will sell it to you with a smile and “Have a nice day!”

Thursday, April 27, 2006

More Travels with Preacher Man

I had been on the road with Preacher for weeks now. I was starting to get used to the daily regimen. I and Preacher would take turns driving. I would drive for ten hours and then Preacher would take over as I crawled into my bunk to sleep. We were paid by the mile so it was to our advantage to keep the truck rolling. It was grueling though and I soon grew weary of it. I don’t think the truck got turned off for days at a time except to refuel or to load or unload.

One of the hardest aspects for me to get used to was sleeping in a rolling vehicle. The truck had two bunks top and bottom. By company policy and law, you could only sleep on the bottom bunk when the vehicle was in motion. The bottom bunk was Preacher’s bed with his comforter and sheets. I hated sleeping in another man’s bed and on one of our stops, I bought a sleeping bag and would sleep atop of Preacher’s beddings inside it. Also, if the truck ever hit a large pothole or bump, you would literally bounce in the bunk and it would jar you awake.

One evening, we were on some back roads in Mississippi. It must have been around midnight. I awoke to the truck sitting perfectly still with the engine off. “Now this is odd!” I thought. I pulled on my pants and opened the curtain separating the sleeping area from the front cab of the truck. The flashing lights of a police cruiser greeted me. I climbed into the passenger’s seat to see what was going on. Soon Preacher came climbing back into the truck with a ticket in hand. He was livid as hell.

“Those damned smokies gave me a ticket for a headlight out!” He exclaimed. “If I were white then I wouldn’t have gotten a ticket!”

We were still hundreds of miles from the distribution center were we could get another headlight installed. Preacher had tried to explain this to the officer but to no avail. The police could sometimes see these big trucks as sources of rolling revenue.

“From now on, for the rest of the night, your white butt is going to drive,” He said. “You won’t get a ticket. I can almost guarantee you.”

I looked at the mileage and trip computer and sure enough, I had gained ten more legal hours to drive. I felt like I had only slept for two hours though and begrudgingly climbed back into the driver’s seat. Soon we were rolling again as Preacher climbed into his bunk to go to bed.

“Wake me up if something happens,” Preacher said and then he shut curtains between us.

I had probably only driven fifty miles when a police cruiser came racing up beside me. He flicked on his lights and motioned for me to pull over. I had to drive several more miles to find a suitable spot. You can’t just pull a big rig over anywhere. The officer got out of his car and walked up to the truck. I rolled down my window.

“You doin’ all right tonight?” He asked in a heavy southern drawl looking up to me.

“Yes sir,” I said. “I will be glad when I can park this thing and stop for the night though.”

The officer didn’t ever ask me to get out of the truck.

“Well, I just wanted you to know you have a headlight out,” He said. “Get it fixed as soon as possible.”

The cop walked back to his car and drove off. Preacher was right. I didn’t get a ticket. Preacher poked his head through the curtains.

“Now, didn’t I tell you?” He said. “My black ass would have gotten a ticket!”

We finally made it back to Indianola and the distribution center. The first thing I did after dropping off our trailer was to head straight to the service bay to get that headlight fixed. Two run-ins with the cops were two too many for me that night. I was so glad to be off the road and to get some fitful sleep after a restless night.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Tale of Two Lives

I do so realize that my father wants what is best for me. I wish I was so simple that I could live that conventional life he has always longed for me. My brother and sister both followed his instructions to the T and went on to be successful doctors. I just could never find my place in life. Living a conventional life such as my father or my siblings just brings this deep amount of despair over me. The tedium of conventional life is just so disparaging. Maybe my lot in life is to be that verbose wino on the street corner holding that sign that reads, “Need money for beer, hookers, and weed. Hey, at least I ain’t bullshittin’ you.” I probably need to go pitch my tent upon my old homeless stomping grounds and disappear as one of those invisible statistics you read about, but rarely encounter on a daily basis. I want that deliberate life that Ferret is leading these days.

Monday, April 24, 2006

An Adult Child

My father bluntly told me tonight, “You never grew up. You don’t act like an adult.” I didn’t get upset. He is pretty much right. I will concede that my life is rather unorthodox considering the company I keep many days. I just couldn’t live life like he does. He does nothing but work all the time to afford things that have little meaning or value to me. I could give a rat’s ass what others think of me these days. His life reminds me of that British comedy Keeping up Appearances.

“What do you want to do with your life?” He then asked me.

“I would love to live in a tent in the woods and waste my time writing away,” I replied.

You should have seen the look on his face. He wasn’t pleased with my answer.

“A grown, responsible adult doesn’t live in a tent and write,” He replied blithely. “They work and raise a family.”

I knew not to expound further upon my ideas about what a meaningful life would be to me. My father just wouldn’t understand.

“You know I love you,” I said to him giving him a hug trying to diffuse the situation. “You will always be my dad.”

“I just don’t know what to do with you sometimes,” He said exasperated hugging me back.

Well, I am now seemingly enrolled into my father’s program for becoming an “adult.” I am to wash my car tomorrow, the dog can no longer come inside, the driveway shall be swept clean of the leaves from that hail storm the other day, and I am to get my yard into a more “pleasing state of order” or whatever the hell that means. I don’t even know where to start.

“You would grow concerned if I let my yard get in a state of disarray,” He said.

“Yeah, there would be something very wrong with you if that were to happen,” I replied sort of surreptitiously .

Maybe I will take some pictures of my yard tomorrow and let you all decide if it really is in such a state of “disarray.” One of the biggest obstacles to living my life has been living up to my father’s expectations of me. It is maddening. I do love and admire the man though. That is why it is so hard.

A Deliberate Life

I made my way back down to Ferret’s campsite today. I wanted to give him one of my extra magnesium fire starters and show him how to use it. As I made my way back to the clearing in the trees where Ferret had pitched his tent, the most wonderful smell of food came wafting by me upon the air. Ferret was standing over a pot above a fire and stirring the contents.

“What you cookin?” I asked as I walked up to him. “It smells wonderful.”

“Ground beef hash,” He said handing me a spoon full of the concoction.

I tasted it and it was indeed delicious.

“What did you put in it?” I asked.

“Oh, just some onions, ground beef, potatoes, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste,” Ferret said. “You want to stay for supper?”

“Sure,” I said as Ferret went back into his tent to get an extra bowl and spoon.

He ladled two bowls full of the food and we sat on the ground around the fire as we ate.

“You were right about the mouthwash,” I said.

“That shit will fuck you up!” Ferret said with a grin.

“Yeah, and give you the worst hangover you have ever experienced in your whole life as well,” I replied.

Ferret just laughed and laughed.

“Did you drink the whole bottle?” He asked.

“Yeap,” I replied. “I got so fucked up last night I couldn’t even find my glasses this morning.”

“Man, you gotta drink that shit slow and easy,” He replied.

We both finished up eating our bowls of food. I handed Ferret the fire starter and showed him how to use it. He was very appreciative of the gift. I was about ready to head for home.

“What do you miss most about living in a home?” I asked Ferret before leaving.

“I miss the television,” He said. “And these fucking mosquitoes will drive you crazy.”
“Well, I haven’t watched the TV in months and can assure you that you aren’t missing much,” I replied. “I will get some OFF tomorrow at work if I think about it for those damn bugs.”

“See ya man,” Ferret said as I started my walk back home.

I really do envy Ferret in a certain way of the life he is living. It is such a simple and deliberate way to live. I don’t know why, but I have a strong feeling of nostalgia over my homeless days.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Two Alcoholics Shoot the Shit as Sherman

I spent most of my afternoon hanging out with Ferret down at his camp by the river. I had brought my fishing rod, but didn’t manage to catch anything. I and Ferret had a long discussion about our drinking habits. It kind of reminded me of some of the Alcoholics Anonymous meetings I have attended, but with a very odd twist. Ferret told me that when he is running low on money he will drink mouthwash.

“Mouthwash?” I asked incredulously.

“Think about it man,” He said. “A cheap bottle of vodka will cost you ten bucks, right?”

“Yeah,” I replied in agreement.

“That shit is about forty percent alcohol,” He said looking for my approval.

I nodded to let him know I was following the discussion.

“You can go buy that Equate mouthwash down at Wal-Mart for just over two bucks and it is almost thirty percent alcohol,” He replied. “Your ass can get fucked up for two bucks!”

“How can you drink that crap though?” I asked grimacing. “Doesn’t it make you gag and vomit?”

“You better have a chaser,” He replied with a laugh. “It ain’t as bad as you think, especially if you need a drink really bad.”

Me and Ferret talked for quite a bit longer mostly about sex and women (like us two fucked up souls are ever going to get laid). The sun was growing lower on the horizon and I decided to head home before it got dark and I couldn’t find my way out of the woods. I also wanted to try Ferret’s little mouthwash experiment. I drove down to Wal-Mart and bought a 1.5 liter bottle of equate mouthwash for $2.47 with tax I have drank two full glasses of the stuff and let me tell you, yes, it will get you drunk. Ferret was right. The below picture was taken about an hour ago.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Grillin’ with the Gang

“Hey white boy,” I heard a voice from a car behind me say. “You be needin’ a ride?”

I turned around to look and started to laugh at the big goofy grin on the fellas face driving the car. It was Sherman. I was on the last leg of my daily hike heading home. Sherman was coming from giving someone a ride over to the nearby housing projects. He pulled up beside me and told me to get in.

“What’s up you crazy bastard,” I told him in a goodhearted way as I smiled and got in the passenger’s side.

“It’s Miller time!” Sherman said as he put the car in drive and we began roll. “I just be gettin’ paid.”

“How much did you make on that fare?” I asked him.

“I brought dat nigga all da way from Greenville and he only paid me thirty dollas,” Sherman said.

The thought of Sherman’s decrepit car doing the speed limit on the interstate made me shudder. I would feel safer in a plane full of terrorists bound for New York.

“You be havin’ any money on you?” Sherman asked.

“Yeah,” I said. “Why?”

“Let’s be getting’ a few cases of beer and some steaks and go grill dem out at the lake,” Sherman replied. “I be buyin’ the beer if you be buyin’ the steaks.”

“Who else is coming?” I asked.

“We are gonna get dat fat fuck Big S and see if Droopy and Ferret are over there as well,” Sherman said.

I have to admit that the thought of a cookout with the gang was intriguing. It certainly would be a first time experience.

“Okay man,” I replied. “I just can’t drink though.”

“Why you ain’t drinkin’?” Sherman asked.

“Man, I told you the other day my doctor said I can’t drink on the new medications I am taking,” I replied. “You must have been too fucked up to remember.”

Sherman drove over to the grocery store where I work. Big S was sitting out front along with Droopy as usual. Sherman rolled down his window.

“Get yo fat ass in da car!” He hollered to Big S.

“And you too, you lazy-ass no-good-for-nothin’ nigga.” He said referring to Droopy.

They both climbed into the backseat apparently ready for one of Sherman’s adventures.

“You seen Ferret?” I turned around in my seat to ask Big S.

“He said he be goin’ across the river to the liquor store about fifteen minutes ago,” Big S replied.

They don’t sell steaks at the grocery store where I work, but do at the grocery store across the river. The people in the neighborhood that frequent my place of employment are far too poor or cheap to buy them and they never sell. We don’t even put them out for sale in the butcher’s department anymore.

“Good, that will be on our way,” I said. “Sherman, we will pick up Ferret and then go get the beer and steaks at Lashley’s grocery.”

We made our way through downtown and started across the bridge spanning the river. Ferret was halfway across the bridge peddling furiously on his bike in his quest for a drink. Sherman just stopped right in the middle of the road on a major thoroughfare completely stopping traffic. He told Ferret to put his bike in the trunk and to get inside the car. The car behind us started to honk their horn repeatedly with impatience.

“Kiss my black ass!” Sherman hollered to the driver behind us as he stuck his head out of the window.

Sherman was causing a scene and was driving without a license with a possible warrant out for his arrest. I just knew the police would show up at any minute.

“Come on, hurry up!” I hollered out to Ferret as he struggled to get his bike in the trunk.

Ferret finally managed to get it where it wouldn’t fall out and we were on our way.

“Take me by Big Jim’s package store,” Ferret said.

“I be buying da beer,” Sherman said. “Ain’t no need for dat.”

“I ain’t drinking that watered down shit,” Ferret replied.

We swung by Big Jim’s package store as Ferret went in and bought a large bottle of cheap “wino” wine. We then made our way over to the grocery store. Sherman made a beeline to the beer aisle as I went and bought five of the cheapest sirloin steaks I could find along with charcoal, paper plates, napkins, salt and pepper, plastic forks and knives. We finished our shopping and drove out towards one of the parks on the lake.

“Yo fuckin’ ass stinks,” Big S said referring to Ferret who was sitting next to him in the back seat on the way to the lake.

Droopy laughed heartily and agreed. “You need to wash yo stankin’ ass.”

“I took a bath in the river the other day,” Ferret responded. “I’m not stinking that bad.”

“Andrew, do I stink?” Ferret asked me as if I were some expert on malodorous issues.

“Well, a little deodorant wouldn’t hurt,” I replied trying to be polite.

He really did reek and the smell filled up the car causing all of us to roll down our windows. The odor was kind of a mix of days old fish, body odor from sweat, and stale river water.

We finally made it out to the lake park and took up a table and bench covered by a shelter overhead. I insisted that I would be the grill master and cook. The gang all proceeded to start drinking. The grill next to the shelter was a mess. It took me quite a few minutes to clean it up. I lit the instant light charcoal and soon it was ready to put the steaks on. By the time the steaks had cooked medium well, only one case of beer was left. The temptation for me to drink some beers as well was almost overwhelming, but somehow I resisted.

We all sat around the bench “shooting the shit” as Sherman likes to say as we ate. Big S couldn’t quit giggling like a small school child due to feeling rather high from the many beers he had consumed. Even the most banal of conversation matters were funny to Big S.

“Yo goofy ass will laugh about anything,” Sherman said to Big S.

Being cheap steaks they were a little tough, but good none the less. Then it started to rain pretty heavily. We all headed for the car after throwing away our trash. Sherman ran to the driver’s side door to get in. He had already had well over a dozen ice beers.

“Hey man!” I hollered. “You sure as hell ain’t driving.”

“I ain’t drunk!” Sherman exclaimed.

“You’re my friend, right?” I asked.

“You be my brother,” He said as he put his arm around my shoulder.

We were both getting soaking wet in the rain as I tried to convince Sherman to let me drive.

“I just want to drive the Diplomat today,” I replied.

Sherman handed me the keys and we started on our way home. Driving Sherman’s dumpy car made me appreciate my nice Honda. The front end was so bad out of line that I had to fight the steering wheel to keep it in a straight line and on the road. I then dropped Big S, Ferret, and Droopy off by the grocery store and took Sherman on home to sleep it off as he was far drunker than he let on to be. No doubt, he will sleep a few hours and then get right back to drinking as Saturday night is his nightly game of poker at Pookie’s house. I walked the thirty minutes home praising the weather gods that the rain had stopped and hoping it wouldn’t begin again and what a beautiful late spring walk it was.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

For Ferret, Things are Looking Up

Ferret came peddling up to the front of the grocery store precariously balancing a cardboard box of his clothes upon the handlebars. Somehow, he has managed to get a bicycle. I had just finished my shift at work and was sitting outside on the bench next to Big S. Big S was unusually quiet today. He wasn’t even pestering me for a cigarette.

It is common knowledge within the gang that I was homeless for six months. I made the mistake of one time telling Sherman. Sherman is the grapevine down at the grocery store and anything and everything gossip worthy gets spread by him. The gang looks at my stint at homelessness as some kind of strange badge of courage and honor. It garners me respect from them for some reason.

The first few weeks of homelessness are the hardest. You think your life is over. My first two weeks of homelessness were a drunken pity party. It is hard to describe with words the kind of despair you feel and that is all encompassing. I think ferret went through this same process and has now grown more resigned and comfortable with his fate as I did. He was in an inquisitive and more lucid frame of mind today. He was more of his old self.

“Where did you get showers?” He asked me.

“I showered down at the truck stop once or twice a week,” I replied. “At the time, I think it cost $5 dollars.”

“Do you have to have your own towel?” He asked.

“They give you a small bar of soap, a towel, and a washcloth,” I replied.

“I washed off in the river yesterday and liked to have froze my ass off,” He said. “The water is still cold as shit.”

“How did your tent fare in that hail storm yesterday?” I asked him.

“The tent was fine when I got back there,” He said. “I sat out the storm in Sunday Ann’s drinking a coke and eating a chili dog.”

“Are you going to wash those clothes?” I asked him referring to the cardboard box of clothes he had sat on the ground next to us.

“Yeah,” He said.

“You know that Laundromat over on cherry drive?” I asked him.

He nodded yes.

“Those dryers run twice as long on fifty cents as the ones downtown,” I said. “You can usually dry your clothes without having to put in more coins.”

Ferret thanked me for the tip and went peddling back across the parking lot headed towards the Laundromat. I almost envied Ferret of what he is going through. I never felt more alive during my homeless days. The rawness of the situation taught me so many things about life that I had never learning during my thirty something years of conventional life.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Crackheads Come a Callin’

Warning! Lots of profanity ahead! It has been one of those days. I cursed enough to make a sailor blush today. I was extremely coarse and crass with my language out of anger.

___________________________


Sherman showed up at my house this morning. I had just gotten off work. Shifty was sitting in the passenger’s seat when he drove up in the driveway. I was standing at my back door smoking a cigarette just about to go inside. “Fuckin’ A” I muttered aloud to myself at the fact that Shifty was in the car. A feeling of deep dread overcame me. He and his crackhead friends will now know where I live. Shifty often hangs out at Pookie’s house and Sherman plays poker with him. Thankfully, he is not a regular groupie down at the grocery store.

“What up my brotha!” Sherman gleefully exclaimed as he walked up the driveway towards me.

“Come here man,” I said with a stern look as I walked around the side of my house out of Shifty’s view.

I was pissed as hell.

“What be wrong?” Sherman asked as he followed me.

“How many times have I told you to never bring him or his kind to my house,” I said angrily.

“He be cool,” Sherman said nervously. “He be cool.”

“Sherman, he will steal me fucking blind. Hell, he steals you fucking blind and you are a friend.” I said. “And now every crackhead that hangs out with him will know where the baby faced, white-boy lives that has a soft heart for fuckups like you.”

“You ain’t gotta be sayin’ all dat!” Sherman said loudly growing angry as well.

“Well man, how do you expect me to feel?” I asked. “I trust you as a friend and you go and do this shit? I am now going to have to start locking my goddamn doors and taking the key out of my car.”

Man, I got more pissed the more I thought about what Sherman had done. You can’t trust a crackhead. Anybody smoking that shit will do ANYTHING to get more. I don’t care if they were your best childhood friend for twenty years. If they start smoking crack, you can kiss either your money and/or your worldly possessions goodbye. They will tell you how good a friend you are with a big smile on their face while all the time pawning everything you own for a $20 dollar crack rock. Crack cocaine is a fucked up drug. I have had a most unpleasant first hand experience with the police, crack, and crackheads so trust me on this, but that is another tale for another time on this journal.

“What did you want anyway?” I asked starting to calm down a little bit.

“You ain’t be havin’ twenty bucks I could be borrowin’?” Sherman asked sheepishly.

“Fuck man,” I said as I shook my head reaching for my wallet to pull out a twenty dollar bill. “To be a good guy, you sure can do some stupid shit sometimes.”

All this over twenty bucks. At least Sherman always pays me back and you can trust him for the most part unlike Shifty and his ilk.
They say you can judge a man’s character by the company he keeps. This post must speak volumes about both I and Sherman. Jesus, I need to get some new friends to hang out with. My social life is the pits. The thought of Shifty and his merry band of crackheads pillaging my home will do wonders for my paranoia these next few weeks.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Drawing Lines in the Sand

This encounter with the gang originally occurred on September 9, 2005. I just really don’t feel like writing today even though something very interesting happened at work this morning that I wanted to share. Maybe I will share that work experience tomorrow. I have tried writing about it several times today, but have given up after a paragraph. Maybe a writer’s stars and planets are just not perfectly aligned today or something.

________________________


I made the mistake of walking down to the grocery store this morning for chocolate milk and some crackers. I needed a walk and to get out of the house. The groupies were in full force and they were fiery mad about what happened in New Orleans. The conversation I got caught in grew racially charged.

“Dat shows you what da guv’ment thinks of poor-ass niggas,” Sherman said speaking of the government’s lackadaisical response to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

“My great aunt be livin’ down dere and she was in the superdome,” Big S said.

“Did she get out?” I asked as I took a drink of my milk.

“Hell, I don’t be knowin’,” Big S said. “Last I heard was dat my sister saw her on TV. Haven’t heard from her since.”

“Well, I hope she is okay,” I replied sincerely.

“If all dem peoples be rich, white folks then dey would have gotten help da next day,” Sherman said excitedly and with great emotion.

I couldn’t argue with him as he was most likely right. The poor and minorities are often neglected in modern society. It’s a dog eat dog world.

“What about yo white ass?” Sherman asked speaking to me. “What would you have done?”

I ate another cracker and took a swig of chocolate milk. I pondered over my reply.

“Sherman,” I said earnestly. “I would have gotten the hell outta there. I would have packed my backpack with food and water, loaded my 9mm pistol, and hiked out of that hell hole. I can hike 15 miles on a good day.”

“Well, you crazy, white, survivalist mutha fuckas could do dat,” He replied. “But most niggas ain’t gonna be hiking. Hell, most niggas ain’t gonna have a sleeping bag or tent like yo crazy ass.”

“Sherman, would you want to sit around and wait on help that might not come?” I asked. “I would help myself.”

“What about all dem niggas with childrens and elderly folks,” Sherman replied. “Dey ass couldn’t hike outta dere.”

Big S agreed with Sherman.

“You’re right, man,” I replied. “If I had kids or an elderly family member then I would be stuck there dependent upon others. I would be doing my best to see about them.”

“Now, me and you be brothas, right?” Sherman asked as he extended his hand.

“Yeah, man. We are cool,” I replied as I shook his hand.

“Then, you gotta admit dose niggas were treated wrong,” Sherman said.

“Sherman, you and I both know that what happened down there was wrong,” I replied.

“See? Dat be what I am talkin’ about,” Sherman replied. “Even a white cracka admits it.”

I had finally finished my crackers and milk. Sherman went on and on about the injustices that had occurred in New Orleans. He and Big S argued feverishly about what had happened. I bid them both farewell and walked on home.

I don’t have anything important or ground breaking to say about what just occurred and what happened on the gulf coast. I mainly feel apathy and sadness. I have no way of helping as I am personally poor as well and have no means of doing so.

The Fingers; They Don’t Type

I just don’t feel like journaling today. I am in a rather funky mood. I didn’t sleep at all last night other than maybe two hours and had to be in at 6 a.m. for work. Work was just plain weird. I also had my injection this morning at the increased dosage so maybe that has something to do with my listlessness today. I doubt I will even attempt my daily hike. My highest aspiration for today will be somehow lifting myself out of this chair to go get something to eat. I don’t even know if I can climb that seemingly insurmountable mountain.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Starlight, Star Bright

Star Light Star bright,

The first star I see tonight,

I wish I may,

I wish I might,

Have the wish I wish tonight.


What beautiful words from a child’s nursery rhyme. Looking at the night sky just a moment ago evoked such memories of said rhyme. I can picture my mother sitting by my bed brushing the hair out of my face as we said it together looking out the window above my bed at the Polaris, the North Star.

“Sleep tight my little bed bug,” She would say.

“Night mom, I love you,” I would reply.

She would pull the warm covers over me and silently walk out of room often looking back at me and my brother before she left. I would lie in bed thinking fantastic thoughts of other worlds and other beings as I continued to look at that bright star in my window. Soon, my eyes would grow heavy and my yawning would increase in frequency. My fantastic thoughts would soon turn into dreams and fitful sleep. Good night.

Precursor to Summer

What a muggy morning. The humidity was so thick you could cut it with a knife. A heavy layer of stratus clouds had formed overnight keeping the temperatures warm and not hot by hiding the sun. Other than the oppressive humidity, it was a quite pleasant morning.

Work was routine except for one incident. I spent most of the morning wrapping chili peppers for sale. I forgot to put on my latex gloves and absent mindedly rubbed my eyes once. Big mistake! An immediate painful burning sensation ensued and my eyes turned bloodshot red. I looked like I had a vicious hangover. I won’t repeat that little excruciatingly painful faux pas again.

I did see Dumpster Diving Dan this morning. He was knee deep in trash in one of the bins as I walked out to throw some stuff away. He had found several bags of stale bread we had thrown away.

“Are you going to feed that to the seagulls this morning?” I asked.

“Of course,” He said as he smiled. “I have to take care of God’s creatures.”

Watching Dan feed the seagulls is a sight to behold. They follow the river up from the Gulf of Mexico. Hundreds of seagulls will encircle Dan as he throws out the scraps of stale bread squabbling amongst each other for the choicest morsels. I wonder how long the local authorities will let this continue as Dan’s little coven continues to grow weekly as more and more seagulls are attracted to the easy life of a free meal everyday.

After work, none of the gang was to be seen this morning. Big S must have had one of his rare lie ins. I was thinking this morning as I sat on Big S’s bench about how sad a life it must be to sit in front of a grocery store everyday begging for change. Of course, Big S thinks it is a grand way to live and probably wouldn’t have it any other way. Different strokes for different folks I guess.

Well, let me get my backpack packed up and get headed out for my daily hike before these clouds burn off and the sun emerges. I am hiking back to my secret place and am going to spend the afternoon sleeping and reading amongst the woods and the quiet serenity it affords. I have made some wonderful sandwiches of dark rye bread, sliced turkey, pepper jack cheese, and Dijon mustard for lunch. Amelia had also asked in my previous post what I am reading. I am slowly making my way through Dean Koontz’ selection of stories called Strange Highways. Good day.

Upon the Green Grass I Lie

What a wonderful day today. One that I will remember for a long time and hope to repeat in the upcoming days before the true heat of summer hits. I use such times to deprogram myself from the conventionalities of modern life. I get so lost in my thoughts.

I have been trying to go on a media fast these days. No radio, television, or internet news websites so I left my little walkman radio at home. So far, I have been successful other than one radio program that comes on at 9 p.m. in the evening. It is called The Golden Age of Radio. At least that program is rather innocuous as far as media goes playing old comedy skits from the 1940s. I find nothing of real relevance to my immediate life in the media so I shall not clutter up my mind by listening to or watching it any longer. I don’t want some other entity dictating what issues should be important to me or what I should be worrying about and why. If it is newsworthy then that news will find me by word of mouth or by direct experience.

Not much of note happened today on my day camping excursion other than seeing one lone turkey hen. I was lying quietly on my back upon my camp throw looking up at the sky and clouds through the overhead tree branches almost drifting off for a nap. Rosie was fast asleep at my feet. I heard a rustle in the underbrush and raised my head slowly. The turkey hen and I both froze. At this point, Rosie must have sensed the tension in the air and went tearing off after the hen. The hen went flying clumsily up into a nearby tree. Rosie thought it was her duty to sit at the base of the tree barking for a good half hour disturbing the solitude of my secret place. She finally grew bored of her guard duty and returned to lie at the foot of my camp throw. “Thank goodness!” I muttered under my breath as the silence of the woods returned.

During my hike and excursion today, my thoughts centered on the concept of money. I thought about how everything in life has some dollar value attached to it. The very land beneath my back as I lie there had some varying amount of green pieces of paper to signify what it is worth to us humans. The very society I live in is obsessed with obtaining and spending those little green pieces of paper. It is a necessary evil of my life that I must work for those pieces of paper as well. The older I get, the more I realize that those pieces of paper are more valuable to many others than actual human life. So many problems in this world of ours could be fixed if we didn’t attribute a dollar value to solving them. Alas, there will be no utopias in my time. I will spend most of the rest of my life scrambling to accumulate enough of those little pieces of paper to house and feed myself. The prospect is rather grim when I look at it that way. It reminds me of a surreal role playing video game as they are much the same way; always filled with tasks and quests to obtain a certain paltry amount of gold coins. Only the most dedicated and obsessed players get that expensive sword +3 of vampire slaying or that chest filled with rubies and diamonds.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

My New Secret Place

A cool breeze blows through the leaves overhead making a comforting rustling sound. Shafts of sunlight shine down through the branches making a myriad of contrasting shadows and light on the ground. The sound of a nearby babbling brook is music to my ears. Thus describes the neat little spot in the woods I found out spring and smedley roads today on my daily hike.

I normally turn around where the road turns to dirt, but today I hiked on catching a second wind. My trusty friend, Rosie, followed me for the whole way. Now she and I are both tuckered out and she is lying at my feet snoring. I got worried that her short and stubby little legs would give out well before mine, but she hung in there and followed me for the duration of my hike.

Finding my new secret spot was by happenchance. I had hiked out the dirt smedley road for about a mile until I came upon a bridge spanning a small creek. I left the seldom traveled road following the creek to the left. About 500 yards from the road, I came upon a clearing in the trees covered with lush grass. I sat down pulling off my heavy backpack to take a drink. I also began to eat some cheese and crackers I had put in my pack and a candy bar. The serenity and peace of this spot just overcame me. I was far removed from the hustle and bustle of the modern world and the mindless babbling of my fellow humans. My only peers were the denizens of the woods and what far kinder peers they are.

I think tomorrow after work, I will pack up a meal, my camp throw, and the book I am reading and hike back to this spot. I can envision a hearty lunch, a long nap in the shade upon my camp throw, and a few hours lying on my side as I read.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

A Journey’s End

I realize personal happenings such as this on a blog can be boring for readers not familiar with the author. I think you have to read someone for a long time to be interested in personal writings such as this. I just felt like writing and capturing today's events to read on a later date when I want to reminisce.

Ah, the comforts of home. My familiar surroundings enveloping me like a warm and well fitting glove. It is so good to be back where I feel the most comfortable in my humble abode. Social situations such as today just drain me completely. That and long drives leave me tired and worn out.

On the way up to my sister’s home, I swung by my great aunt’s house to see if she wanted to go with me. I knew not to call her ahead of time as she would have just said no. Surprisingly, she did want to undertake the journey. To be 89 years old, she is just amazing at how well she does. During the drive, I got filled in on all who either had cancer or had died. She can be so morose in her conversational subject matter. To hear her talk, you would think she was knocking on death’s door. She also talks incessantly and I just quietly drove onwards as I listened and gave her an audience and an ear.

We finally arrived at my sister’s house and I was glad to be off the road. Once everyone had finally arrived as well, we got back into our vehicles and headed to the restaurant. The food was very good and with reasonable prices. I ate a fried oyster and shrimp combo platter which only cost me $10 bucks. There was more food on my plate than I could eat. When then sang happy birthday to my sister and ate chocolate iced pound cake and vanilla ice cream. Our waitress was stellar with dealing with such a large crowd of nine people so we all pitched in and tipped her twenty dollars. You should have seen the smile on her face.

I was chomping at the bit to get the drive home over with before it grew dark. My great aunt also goes to bed as the sun sets so she made for a convenient excuse to get back on the road again and head down state.

On the drive home, she wanted to stop by this quaint old-timey feed and seed store in a town along the way. She bought some rutabaga seeds for her garden (yes, she is 89 and still plants her annual garden) and I bought some fertilizer for our pond which I have been meaning to do for months now. I dropped her off at her home, made sure she was settled, and then drove to the pond to pour in the fertilizer. I just happened to have a fishing rod in the back of my Honda and cast it a few times. On about the fifth cast, I caught a foot long bass which I unhooked and released. I still get that same thrill from fishing that I did as a child.

I then pointed my car east and headed towards home. There was no greater feeling than pulling up into my driveway after a long day with Rosie sitting by my back door to welcome me home.

“Hey girl!” I said as I petted her vigorously and then unlocked my door.

She did a little happy dance that only joyous dogs can do when excited and then ran inside. I was home at last.

Light Blogging Today

I had a short encounter with Sherman this morning. He told me Ferret is sleeping in a tent in the woods by the river. How in the hell Ferret managed to get a tent I do not know. At least he has some form of shelter. Ferret also got his food stamp EBT card so he has plenty to eat at the moment Sherman said. I would actually enjoy sleeping in a tent down by the river, but I doubt Ferret feels the same way. I wonder how the much vaunted everyman of homelessness “The Homeless Guy” would fare in Ferret’s shoes without the trappings of the charities that support him. He would probably crumble under the lack of free internet access to spew his daily pro-homeless propaganda.

I asked Sherman when was the last time he had sobered up. He laughed and said it was sometime in the 1970s. Sherman never fails to crack me up. Of course, he was exaggerating. I have seen him sober on quite a few occasions. I strongly urged him once again to make that call to find out his court date for his driving under the influence charge. I fear it may have already passed and they have issued a bench warrant for his arrest. He is afraid of going to jail and is avoiding the whole issue. One traffic stop and he would be seriously fucked. The decrepit Sherman mobile just screams, “Pull me over!” to a cop. Every time Sherman drives he is rolling the dice and he is dependent upon his car for his income.

I have a long drive ahead of me today traveling upstate. My parental units offered for me to ride with them, but they are staying overnight in a hotel room. I would rather come on home after my sister’s birthday meal and sleep in my own bed tonight. That will make for a total of five hours drive time today. Ever since my long haul truck driving days, I abhor long mileage trips such as these. I don’t particularly relish driving and can’t see worth a shit to drive at night these days. Well, let me get off my duff and get this journey over with.

Friday, April 14, 2006

The Sweating Season

It feels like summer here. I have started back my daily hikes like I did all last summer. I need to get my hiking legs back in shape and I have gained a few pounds over the winter as well. I donned my backpack and hiked several miles out spring road and then made a loop that brought me by my place of employment to buy a large bottle of Gatorade. I sat down on the bench in front of the store to rest next to Big S. The sweat was just pouring off of Big S’s brow. He would occasionally wipe it away with a rag. I have never seen a man sweat like he does.

“You be havin’ a smoke?” He asked.

“Yeah,” I replied.

“Can I be borrowing one?” Big S then asked.

“No,” I said bluntly and then proceeded to drink my Gatorade.

Droopy was standing up against the wall next to our bench and laughed at our little exchange. Big S told him to “shut the fuck up.” Big S probably makes more panhandling in a day than I do busting my ass wrapping produce all morning. I was not about to give him one of my precious and hard earned cigarettes. He can buy his own.

About this time, a middle-aged black lady came walking out of store carrying two bags of groceries.

“Excuse me miss,” Big S said in his most proper voice catching her by surprise. “You couldn’t spare some change for a cold drink on this hot day.”

She put one of her bags down on the ground and reached into her jeans pocket. She gave Big S four quarters.

“Thank you ma’am,” Big S said. “And God bless you.”

The lady walked away and got in her car and drove off.

“Big S, you are so full of shit,” I said. “There ain’t a religious bone in your body.”

”People be likin’ to hear that God bless you crap,” Big S replied as he smiled. “It makes dem feel good.”

I just shook my head and smiled at Big S’s total lack of ethics.

“Well, see ya fellas,” I said as I had finished my drink and was heading home.

“Keep it real,” Big S said.
Droopy just nodded the black man’s ghetto goodbye.

All Tied Up

We have such awesome weather in store for us today. The predicted high is supposed to be 86 degrees. Is an early summer going to arrive? I do hope so. The long term forecast predicts really warm weather.

My plans to go camping this weekend have been cancelled though. My sister’s birthday is tomorrow and we are taking her out to eat. I promised dad I wouldn’t miss it. I just dread that very long two and a half hour drive to her home. My sister and I just aren’t very close. We maybe only talk once or twice a year on special occasions. She didn’t even call me or send a card for my birthday which hurt my feelings somewhat. She will not talk to my mother either so I guess I shouldn’t feel too left out.

I was running really late for work this morning. I normally walk to work, but had to drive today I was running so late. I hurriedly clocked in and made my way back to the produce department. I took off my jacket to put on my apron and noticed I had forgotten to put on my tie in my haste to get ready. Things were not going well this morning. I figured one of the higher ups would say something about it, but they never did. I felt as if I were walking around naked without my tie.

Time to get off couldn’t have arrived sooner. Once again, I made my way down to Wanda’s diner for breakfast (I am making an expensive habit out of this). This morning I ordered the fried ham and eggs with grits and toast. The ham was a little too salty for my tastes, but I ate it none the less as I was starving.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Watching the Clock

My job is so mind numbingly boring. I guess I shouldn’t complain as it really is the perfect job for me at the moment. I love the hours. I just wish there was more variation in the tasks I have to perform everyday. I spent all morning putting out ten pound bags of potatoes and three pound bags of onions. The potatoes were on sale this week for $1.98 and were selling just about as fast as I could put them out.

[Just as I was writing this, a raccoon came strolling across my backyard. Rosie went tearing off after it barking furiously. There was a long standoff until the raccoon finally backed down and disappeared into the bamboo thicket on my side yard. I think Rosie confused it with a cat which is her preferred creature of chase. Unfortunately, the raccoon was much braver than our neighborhood cats. I grew concerned that there might be a fight. Rose would have probably lost. Raccoons can be vicious.]

I have developed this casual relationship with this elderly man who forages through the dumpsters behind work. I often see him out there very early in the morning as I go out the back door to throw away cardboard and whatnot. I will call him Dumpster Diving Dan for the purposes of this blog. You can often see Dan feeding stale bread to the Seagulls down by the river.

“Good morning,” I said this morning as I greeted him.

“Good morning, good sir,” He replied.

“Do you want any apples or onions?” I asked. “The apples have a few blemishes and the bags of onions have a few that are sprouting.”

“I would be very appreciative,” He replied.

I walked back to the produce department and put the apples and onions into a cardboard box and carried them out to Dan. He shook my hand furiously and thanked me profusely.

“These will make a fine apple pie and onion soup,” He replied.

“Well, I am just glad you can use them,” I said. “We were just going to throw them away.”

You would be surprised at the amount of food we just chuck into the bin on a daily basis.

After work, I walked down to Wanda’s diner and ate some breakfast. I had a lot left over as I had gotten full. I got them to put the rest in a to-go box. I then walked across the highway to the railroad tracks hoping to find Ferret at his nightly sleeping spot. Once again my mission of compassion was thwarted as Ferret was no where to be seen. I wondered if his mother had finally let him move back in. Oh well, at least I keep trying. I will have to get in touch with Sherman today and find out the latest gossip on Ferret and see what’s up.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Birthday Goings On

We all had a great time at my birthday party. Dad’s best friend came along with his wife and son. My good friend Alan, his wife, and daughter drove down from Atlanta to attend as well. I really appreciated that as they had to drive all the way back to Atlanta tonight as they had school and work tomorrow.

I also got a surprise phone call from my brother in Iraq. I was so great to hear his voice and to know he is okay. He just got the new rank of Lieutenant. As a doctor in the Navy, he is part of a trauma team attached to a group of Marines. He couldn’t tell me much though as they have to be careful what they say due to security reasons.

I ordered three extra large pizzas online and had them delivered to my parent’s house. At first, I thought I had ordered too much, but it worked out perfect. We only had three slices left which I will have for breakfast. Dad had baked my favorite cake, a butternut crème. We all sat around the kitchen table eating cake and ice cream and talking and laughing after everyone sang happy birthday which embarrassed me somewhat. I am getting too old for such things. I don’t like a fuss.

Dad’s best friend Mack then went into this long tale of how I got his autistic son to come out of his shell. Randall is one year older than me at 35 and we grew up together.

“He didn’t start talking until you started to play with him,” Mack said. “All he would do was sit in his room and thump boxes of Crest toothpaste.”

“What did you think of Randall when you were a child?” Dad interjected.

“I just thought of him as one of the gang,” I replied. “I never treated him any different than any other kid.”

“But most kids his age were scared of him as he acted so strange,” Mack said. “You always had a connection with him.”

“He was kind of like a brother to me as I see you more as an Uncle and not dad’s friend,” I replied.

“One time you were playing really rough with Randall,” Mack said.

“And I got on to you and told you to quit,” Dad interrupted.

“I got pissed at you for doing that,” Mack said to my father. “I told you to let him continue. Nobody ever played with Randall. I think that was the first time I ever heard him laugh.”

The conversation went on for quite a bit longer until it had gotten dark. It was time for Randall’s nightly ritual of buying his can of shaving crème at the local Kroger. I thanked everyone for coming and we all went outside to wave goodbye to everyone. I then walked the short distance home feeling thankful for the wonderful friends and family I have in my life. Yes, they can be trying at times, but I wouldn’t trade them for anyone else in the world. My, have things come far since my ostracized homeless days.

Old Blog Post from July 22, 2005 - Retro Blogging

This story was originally posted on my old blog last summer on July 22, 2005. I hadn't seen Sherman for several weeks and he just reappeared as if everything was hunky dory. I especially liked Sherman’s take on black people and camping in this encounter. It still makes me laugh to this day. I had two black people comment on this post on my old blog and they said Sherman was pretty much right in his opinion.

____________________________


The Return of Sherman

Man, my shot sure burned this morning. I think I have finally figured out why. Sometimes I can’t even feel it. Today, they called me back from the lobby almost as soon as I had signed in and sat down. I had just gotten the shot out of the refrigerator at my father’s pharmacy. The nurse remarked how cold it was but she injected it into my butt anyways. It needs to come up to room temperature before being injected thus the extreme burning.

After that ordeal was over, I proceeded to take my daily hike. The last leg of my jaunt usually brings me by the grocery store. I saw Sherman’s dilapidated Dodge Diplomat sitting out in front of the grocery store. It was good to see him as I haven’t seen him for days. I was starting to wonder if he had gotten another driving under the influence charge and was in jail.

Sherman had brought a cohort to the grocery store in exchange for some money. He was sitting in his car in the no parking zone, smoking a cigar, and waiting for them to return. He saw me and motioned for me to come over. I walked over and leaned in towards his open window.

“Get dis brotha a beer,” Sherman whispered.

“Sherman, ain’t it kinda early to be drinking beer?” I asked quietly.

“It be da breakfast of champions!” Sherman said excitedly with a huge toothy grin on his face.

I guess one beer wouldn’t hurt as he seemed completely sober.

I walked inside the store and bought a Gatorade and a Milwaukee’s Best Ice beer. I then got in the passenger’s side of Sherman’s car and sat down. I handed Sherman the paper bag with the beer in it. He cracked it open and proceeded to guzzle it down after looking around to make sure there weren’t any police in view.

“Why yo ass keep scratchin’?” Sherman asked. “You got da cooties or somethin’?”

“I went camping last night and got eaten alive by some kind of bug,” I replied.

“Man, I don’t see why you white crackas want to go sit out in the woods,” Sherman said. “You sho wouldn’t catch no nigga out in the woods at night.”

I laughed.

“Sherman, surely some black people go camping,” I said.

“When was the last time yo ass saw a nigga in a tent?” George asked.

I sat there trying to recollect seeing black people camping. I couldn’t think of any.

“See?” Sherman replied. “Like I said, you ain’t gonna see any niggas out in the middle of the woods unless dey be runnin’ from the police.”

I let out a hearty chuckle.

“Well, man,” I said. “I am gonna head to the house.”

“Stay cool, my brotha. Stay cool,” Sherman said.

I walked on home before the heat of the day hit. It was good to see Sherman alive and well and still going strong.

34 Chapters in this Book Called Life

I didn’t tell Sherman that is was my birthday this morning when I saw him. I knew he would just use it as an excuse to get rip roaring drunk and to try and entice me into doing the same. It would be very tempting to do so. This abstinence thing sucks. I could really use a drink these days. I miss me and Sherman’s little forays into shooting the shit as we drink beer and smoke cigarillos.

My ideal birthday gift would be a two or three day camping trip with a fifth of Southern Comfort and lots of good camp food. I do think I will go camping this weekend in celebration. The weather here is just too gorgeous not to take advantage of it.

My father wanted to make a big fuss of my birthday and take us all down to what he calls the honky tonk. The honky tonk is this 50’s style gas station converted into a posh expensive restaurant. They have delicious food and it is so popular that you always have to wait at least an hour to be seated as they don’t do reservations. I just didn’t want to deal with all that tonight and want a quiet evening with friends and family at my parent’s house. We are going to order pizzas and have cake and ice cream. That is much more my style.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Dangers of Being Sherman

It never felt so good to get off work this morning. Those two hours seemed like the longest two hours of my life. I continually looked at my watch as the minutes slowly ticked by. When 8:00 a.m. rolled around, I clocked out and bolted out those automatic doors to freedom. The first thing I did was to unloosen and remove that damn choking tie they make us wear. I slung it over my shoulder.

I did get to see Sherman this morning which is always a treat (as I do most days these days). He was sitting in his early 80’s Dodge Diplomat in the fire lane awaiting one of his customers as they shopped in the grocery store where I work. He beckoned for me to come over and sit with him to talk.

“Buy dis brotha a beer,” He said as I sat down which is his usual greeting for such encounters.

“Sherman, I can’t go into work buying beer,” I replied as I chuckled. “They will think I am an alcoholic or something and besides, it’s eight fucking thirty in the morning.”

“Come on,” He said. “A workin’ man can be buyin’ a beer.”

“Not the kind you drink,” I replied. “Ice beer screams, ‘I’m an alcoholic.’”

Sherman just laughed and pulled a half empty bottle of cheap wine out from under the seat of his car. He took a drink and then handed it towards me. I waved it off with my hand.

“You too good to be drinkin’ with ole Sherman?” He asked.

“No, no, not at all,” I replied. “My doctor just told me I shouldn’t drink with the medications I am taking.”

“Damn doctors,” He said. “Dey be ruinin’ a man’s good time.”

“When is your court date?” I asked changing the subject.

Sherman got a DUI several months ago. I think it was his sixth and he still gambles by drinking and driving. From what I have heard, he may be facing a possible year in jail.

“Hell, I don’t be knowin’,” Sherman said. “I be done lost the ticket. I be thinkin’ it be in June.”

“Call down to city hall and find out the date,” I said concerned and flabbergasted that he didn’t know.

“Screw dem bastards,” He said and then took another drink.

About this time, a very pretty and young black woman came sauntering across in front of us with a bag of groceries.

“Daaammmn!” Sherman said pointing. “Dat be one fine piece of black ass.”

I just laughed and bid Sherman good day. He is looking at a year in jail, lost his ticket with the court date, and all he can think of is women and drinking. I was so tired from preparing the produce department for two hours and was ready to get home and get something to eat. I was not in the mood for hanging out down at the grocery store today. I walked on home in the cool morning air soaking in the glorious sunshine.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Thwarted Mission of Mercy

A freight train roared past with a gust of wind and mechanical clamoring. I stood over the spot were Ferret was supposed to be. Much recent trash and a few dirty and tattered blankets greeted me upon the bench. I had spent many hours at this same spot as a child watching and photographing trains. The sanctity of this special spot had been disturbed by a vagrant man; the tell tale signs of desperate life littering this little enclave hidden from the prying eyes of townsfolk.

Sherman had told me earlier this morning that Ferret had been staying down here all day, sitting on the bench, and whiling away his time. He said he hadn’t been eating and was looking gaunt. Sherman’s exact words were, “Dat niggas gonna be a ghost soon. I hope he haunts dat crazy ass drunk mother of his.” There are no soup kitchens or shelters here in the small town were I live thus no support for homeless people. Your best hope is to migrate the hour northeast up the interstate to Atlanta were such services exist.

I am extremely wary of Ferret, but after hearing Sherman’s gossip on the matter, I decided to take action. I had fixed a brown paper lunch bag filled with two salami sandwiches, a honey bun, a zip-lock bag of potato chips, and a can of lukewarm coca-cola. Such a gift given to me by a caring soul would have brought me immeasurable joy during my homeless days. My hopes were that Ferret would feel the same. Alas, he was no where to be found.

I made my way back up to the grocery store to see if Big S had seen him. The parking lot was full of cars as people came to and fro from the various stores in the shopping center. Despite the cool, early spring air, I broke out into a sweat as I peddled up the steep hill to my place of employment dodging impatient drivers. I chained my bike to one of the posts out front. Big S was sitting in his usual location along with Droopy. They were having a heated exchange about whether or not Superman or Batman would win in a tussle. Such a banal and stupid conversation I thought giving away the mindset of these simple men.

“Have you seen Ferret?” I asked Big S interrupting his and Droopy’s exchange.

Droopy watched me warily the enigmatic character he is.

“You better leave dat crazy ass nigger alone,” Big S said excitedly. “He ain’t right.”

Big S didn’t know anything. I walked on up to the bench by the dollar store pulling out this months Model Railroader from my backpack to read as I lit a cigarette. I was hoping Sherman or Ferret would show back up. Big S kept coming over to me to beg for a cigarette. I was growing more and more aggravated with each exchange. Our last encounter made me lose my temper.

“You spend your whole fuckin’ life mooching off of others, don’t you!” I said loudly and tersely.

“Fuck you, you crazy ass white cracker,” Big S said angrily and stomped off.

A few moments later, Big S walked back over and extended his hand in reconciliation. I shook it.

“I didn’t mean all dat shit,” Big S said. “You be alright for a white boy.”

“I didn’t mean to be an asshole as well,” I replied. “I am sorry.”

Big S sat down beside me and I handed him a sandwich and a cigarette. I really shouldn’t do this and give in as he will see this as a sign of weakness and take advantage of it. This is all a game to Big S.

I ended up eating the rest of the lunch I had fixed for Ferret; my mission of mercy was thwarted by my own hunger and lack of patience. I unchained my bike and peddled slowly home as thoughts of the homeless and mentally ill Ferret wandering town haunted my mind. Maybe I will try again tomorrow.

Sunday, April 9, 2006

End of a Day

What a quiet and restful day today. I spent most of the afternoon sitting on my porch amid the beautiful weather smoking my pipe and reading back issues of Model Railroader. I would happen to pick one of the most expensive hobbies you can find to be interested in though. I am an armchair modeler and participate via my dreams, reading, and viewing photos of other layouts. I will never be able to afford my own little empire nor do I have the space in my new house to build one. My basement would just not be suitable with its dirt floor. I can dream though, can’t I?

I have surprised myself lately by being extremely diligent in taking my medications in pill form. I finally got one of those weekly pill boxes and take the time every Sunday evening to fill it with my medications. I put a post-it note on my computer monitor reminding me to take them and one on the mirror in my bathroom as well. I almost feel normal these days with nary a hint of a symptom other than slight anxiety when I go out in public. I have also lain off alcohol as I have read and heard so much lately that it reduces the efficacy of my medications; a small price to pay for my sanity.

I made the mistake of visiting the homeless guy’s blog that shall not be named a moment ago and read his latest entries. I navigated away with a bad taste in my mouth and a feeling of frustration. He is like a broken record and will always play the victim. He is homeless due to ideology and not circumstance. He will always be homeless it seems. I wrote an extremely long and verbose essay on this matter and just saved it and didn’t publish it. His writings always make me rant away. I felt better after writing it though and getting my ideas down. I know better than to visit his blog as the result is always the same. There are several more deserved authors writing about this issue that shall get my attention from now on.

The Green Wave of Growth

Spring has just seemingly exploded upon the scene here. After yesterdays dismal weather, it has been so nice to step outside this morning and breathe in the cool, brisk spring air and feel the warmth of sunshine. An occasional butterfly will flutter by and make me smile. I have lived for months to view these scenes out in my backyard after a long winter. This is truly my time of year.

I ended up eating supper with my parent’s last night. Dad gave me a surprise call and asked me if I wanted to come and eat. He had been to Whit’s Chik and got some fried chicken, steak fries, slaw, and rolls. It was delicious. We both agreed that anybody would have to be a fool to go to Kentucky Fried Chicken when so much better fried chicken was just down the road from it. We both like to frequent the family owned businesses and eateries.

Afterwards, I, mom, and dad sat in the den looking at old family photo albums. We found one picture of me smiling and looking so content as a very young child. I jokingly said, “That was the highpoint of my life. It went downhill from there.” We all got a big laugh out of that and dad agreed. I did look so happy and content. Oh, how I wish I could go back and relish those childhood years knowing of the dark times of young adulthood that would follow and the onset of my mental illness.

Saturday, April 8, 2006

Not Much Going On

Rosie just arrived after our big storm. Apparently, one of the neighbor’s kids took a can of white spray paint to her and painted a white stripe down her back. At first, I was angry about it, but now I couldn’t help but chuckle as she looks like a tan skunk. I am going to go talk to my neighbor, Todd, about it today. His kids can be such hellions. They kind of neglect her and I don’t know if it is appropriate for me to do so, but I am going to go do it anyway as soon as the rain stops. She spends more time with me these days than she does with them.

I am feeling kind of blah today. I am stuck inside due to the aberrant weather we are having and am feeling cabin fever. I just can’t get enjoyment out of anything today for some reason. I can’t watch the television as the commercials get on my nerves. There is nothing on the radio on Saturdays. I have tons of video games to play with my gaming computer, but I have not been interested in games for months now. They bore me and feel like work. Also, I am in a rut as far as what to do on the internet. I am down to only 3 or 4 blogs I read at the moment. I guess I shall go sit at my hobby desk and put together, paint, and weather a boxcar kit. The quiet of my home is unnerving at the moment though. Why can’t I just enjoy the silence without filling it with useless background noise?

Friday, April 7, 2006

Dining, Shopping, and Doctors

Egad! What a tiresome day today. Such days drain everything out of me. I returned home to read a good friend had lost a close friend today. It touched me to read his writings and brought a few tears to my eyes as I read. I almost felt like I shouldn’t write this out of respect.

I just have gotten home from the grocery store. I was hoping to see Sherman, but no one had seen him all day. I had to buy some spaghetti noodles for the spaghetti sauce I was defrosting in the fridge that I had frozen. I did see Big S and I warned him of the foul weather on the way.

“I ain’t scared of no storms,” He said.

“Okay man, don’t say I didn’t warn you,” I replied.

Actually, the storm system we are expecting has slowed down considerably and probably won’t hit until overnight some time. I just couldn’t resist messing with Big S. I did see him hobbling across the parking lot at a fast pace for him headed home as I walked out from doing my shopping. It gave me a big chuckle. Yeah, he sure ain’t scared of no storms. *snort*

I and my father did manage to do all our dining, shopping, and the doctor’s office visit. We went to eat at the Western Sizzlin or what my father’s best friend calls the “Fat Farm” due to always numerous obese people gathered around their substantial all-you-can-eat buffet. I got the petite sirloin and dad got the teriyaki chicken. We passed on the scrumptious looking buffet not wanting to fight for a place at the trough.

After lunch, we went shopping for our summer clothes. Click on the picture to the left to enlarge it and see what I bought. I got several nice shirts and two pairs of khaki shorts. I ended up spending far less than what I had expected to spend as Belk was having a really good sale. Dad bought over $300 dollars in clothes and surprised me as he not a big shopper of such things.

Then we headed to my dreaded psychiatrist appointment. I got a big lecture from her about the dangers of consuming alcohol and taking psychiatric medicines. She is probably right and I listened earnestly. We did manage to persuade her into bumping my Risperdal dosage up to 37.5 mg from 25 mg when dad told her I was trying to sleep in my car. Ha! Hopefully that will help.

On the way home, I and dad popped in a Roy D. Mercer CD and listened. Roy D. does prank calls for a radio station in Tulsa, Oklahoma (listen to the police chief prank call on his website for a laugh). It had been sitting in dad’s car since Christmas as he couldn’t figure out how to use his 6-disc CD changer. It was a gift from my Uncle. We both haven’t laughed so hard in all our lives. At one point, dad got to laughing so hard that we had to pull off the side of the interstate. We had a grand time and it will be a memory I will always cherish sharing with my father. I am not kidding when I say we have never shared a laugh together like that.

Well, my water for my noodles is boiling and I must go pop the garlic toast in the oven. Let me go get supper started as I am starving.

Done a Runner as the Brits Say

*The following is just pure conjecture, but I felt like writing about my ideas on this matter this morning as I just visited his blog by stupidity inducing curiosity. This is why I do not read his blog as it brings out such strong emotions and opinions from me. Please chastise me for doing so if you feel the need.*

I do believe the homeless guy that shall not be named has done another runner. I would be willing to place a sizable bet that he ends back up in his old stomping grounds in Tennessee. There, he didn’t have to work and knew how to use various charities to his advantage. He had free shelter and was familiar with all the places to get free meals.

In Las Vegas, he has to work for his accommodations. Work soon grows very old and is doubly hard to do if you haven’t really worked in years. Take it from me. I know. I really hadn’t worked other than odd jobs here and there for over three years. I think the old saying that if you don’t use it, you lose it goes for working as well. You can get very accustomed to an unemployed lifestyle and the freedoms it entails.

It kind of makes me angry being a formerly homeless person that he is still calling himself homeless and harping about how hard it is when he became homeless voluntarily this time around. He had a home and gave it up carelessly on some whim about freedom (I do realize I almost did this as well in a moment of irrationality). He voluntarily moved to Vegas and started using resources that could have a helped a true homeless person in that town. Resources are finite and there are only so many beds and meals to go around. Someone probably had to sleep on the streets because of him.

His short quoted post about the detriment of paying child support for indigent men was telling as well. If he had kept his home and his job in Tennessee then he could have possibly been able to reunite with his children through legal means. This also means he would be liable to pay child support as well. He occasionally writes sympathy inducing posts about his love for his kids and how much he misses them so why did he just take off during one of the greatest chances of reuniting with his offspring in years? I do believe child support is a great factor in why he can never settle down, take responsibility, and actually gain back a relationship with his children. He would start having to pay child support and being a responsible parent for a change. He probably owes thousands and thousands of dollars by now if his ex-wife has sought such entitlements. As long as he stays homeless and indigent you can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip so to speak.

I will concede that I am not the most responsible of men. I will not use my mental illness as an excuse, but one thing I do pride myself in is that I always knew I could never raise a family or support them. I was well aware from my early years as a young adult when my illness first manifested itself that I was incapable of doing so. I am very grateful that I always had the lucidity to never put offspring sired by me through the horrors of having a mentally ill parent like I experienced before my mother was diagnosed, got help, and started to recover through medications.
Well, as you can see, this is why I shouldn’t read his blog. It gets me on a self righteous rant. I will probably regret posting this as the day grows shorter.

Rattus Norvegicus Sets up Shop

I and mom went to Wanda’s diner last night for supper. Wanda’s came highly recommended for their home style hamburger plate. It truly was delicious. I could have eaten two. Some old friends of the family were sitting behind us eating as well. Mom just loudly blurts out, “Are you still sleeping in your car?” I quickly put my finger to my mouth and shushed her as I frowned and my face grew red. The friends next to us got really quiet trying to listen in. It both embarrassed me and her. She apologized profusely when we got back in the car to drive home. I told her not to worry about it.

I only had to work from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. this morning. I much prefer those hours as I am usually up by 4 a.m. anyway. My supervisor tried to goad me into working past lunch though, but I had to decline despite some serious persuasion going on. I just have far too much to do today with dad. Laundry, summer clothes shopping, my doctor’s appointment, eating out, etc. just means my plate is full today.

I spent all morning sorting and wrapping packs of okra. The okra was from Mexico and was not of very good quality at $5.49 a pound. That may sound like a lot but it is so light that each pack I made only cost around $1.25 for sale. We cater to a black clientele as the neighborhood the grocery store in is predominately poor and minority. It is customary to put okra in your black eye peas here as they cook. It is an acquired taste as okra gets slimy as it boils in the peas. I have never cared for it myself even though I grew up eating it.

We have some serious problems at work that I couldn’t talk about on my old blog due to liability reasons. We have two infestations in the back preparation areas. Rats and copious amounts of cockroaches have made their home back there. Overnight, we set out industrial sized “flypaper” traps to catch the rats. Often, one or two traps have a poor victim attached in the morning. I fear the management is fighting an uphill battle though. They are too cheap to hire professional exterminators. I no longer do my personal shopping there due to these revelations. I drive across town to a more upscale grocery store.