Sunday, June 18, 2006

A Jolly Old Chap

I was accused yesterday by a family member of being “too happy” these days. I was like, “What the fuck?” How can you be too happy? They were worried my anti-depressant was causing a manic high as I have a continuous smile on my face these days. I have never been accused of being bi-polar or manic depressive before. I have pretty much been a morose depressed little son of a bitch for years. Can’t I bask in the glory of the limelight of happiness for once? I dismissed their concerns without much of a second thought. Not even Satan himself could steal my thunder these days if I believed in such clap trap.

George came over to hang out and drink wine last night. His usual Saturday night poker game at Pookie’s house had been cancelled. Saturday nights are when I religiously watch my British comedies on Public Television. I am autistic-like in my routines and regimens; kind of like Dustin Hoffman’s caricature of Raymond in the movie Rainman. Raymond religiously had to watch People’s Court. I am the same way with my British comedies on Saturday nights.

George had bought a plastic bag filled with four bottles of Wild Irish Rose wine.

“Surely, you are not going to drink all of those tonight?” I asked.

“Watch me,” George said defiantly with a facetious grin on his face.

At first, George didn’t find my British comedies amusing or funny, but by the third bottle of wine, he was laughing hysterically. George’s antics were contagious and we both got to laughing so hard our sides began to hurt.

The only downside to the evening was that George hates to drink alone and kept offering me his bottle of wine. It was tempting, but I have taken a solemn vow not to drink these days. I came to the realization that drinking is so depressing and a major component of my depressive moods over the years. It was amusing to watch George imbibe in the spirits though.

George finally got so drunk he passed out in my lazy boy recliner. I turned off the TV and lights and went to bed. I awoke again around 4 a.m. in the morning to use the bathroom and George was gone. He had slipped quietly out into the night and headed home. I am sure he will have a vicious hangover this morning. Bless his little drunken soul.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Burning the Midnight Oil

Well, I pulled an all-nighter and didn’t sleep a wink last night. It has been a night of excess music, coffee and cigarettes. I can just now see the first glow of dawn beyond this computer monitor outside my window. The birds have begun to wake and call with earnestness. Rosie is lying on the floor beside me and snoring softly. She is smarter than I.

My eyelids are just now growing heavy and I think I will be soon to go to bed. That will probably mean no updates on the gang today. Saturday will be spent sleeping. This is going to completely fuck up my sleeping schedule. C’est la vie as they say.

I got an email yesterday morning from my brother in Iraq. He wrote that he will be home in September. He is an officer and physician in the Navy attached to a group of Marines. The emails from Iraq are carefully monitored and censored by the military so he couldn’t say much. He said he is tired of the drab brown landscape of Iraq and longs for the green countryside of the southern United States. I and my family will be glad when he steps foot back on American soil. It will have been seven months since he left. His wife and young daughter live in San Diego. He misses them deeply.

Well, let me go close my windows and back door and turn on the AC. It is supposed to be extremely hot today with temperatures in the high nineties. I went all last summer without using my air conditioner to save money and sweated my ass off. There is no worse feeling than waking up in sweaty, wet sheets on a hot and humid summer’s night. This summer I have decided not to be a cheap bastard and have been turning on the air at night. Good night….err….should I say good morning. Oh, I am so confused and delirious with lack of sleep and caffeine from copious amounts of coffee.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Calamity Strikes

Well, calamity for Big S as he now has no where to sit his fat lazy ass down at the shopping center while he panhandles. Sometime yesterday, workmen came and removed all the benches lining the perimeter of the shopping center near the shops and the grocery store. I am not sure if this was an attempt by the management to deter these men from hanging out down there all day. They will occasionally call in the police from time to time to run the gang off for a few days when the loitering problem grows out of hand.

Big S was livid mad when I saw him this morning. He was cussing up a storm and saying that this was some convoluted plot by “the white man” against black patrons. He said he was going to “take his business elsewhere.”

“What business?” I asked. “You don’t buy anything from the shops unless you are talking about the business of begging people for money.”

Big S told me to shut the fuck up and that I was taking sides with the white man.

This probably won’t deter any of the gang from hanging out down there. Cap W/Tag Guy (who I need to add to the cast of characters) always stands up against the wall between the dollar store and the grocery store. Droopy usually stands as well. Big S will probably just plop his big ass down on the sidewalk against the wall. HIV/AIDs Guy and Shifty are usually so hyped up on crack cocaine that they can’t sit still anyway for more than a few seconds. We will just have to see how this all pans out over the next few days. My educated guess is that things will be back to normal in just a short time. Old habits die hard and these men have nothing better to do than to hang out down there all day. It is groupie social central.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

A Helping Hand

I spent a long time this morning printing out all the forms for applying for Social Security disability for Ferret. Ferret is concerned he will need a lawyer and can’t afford one. I assured him I got my disability on the first try without a lawyer. I even went so far as to stamp the envelope to make it easy for him and told him to stick it in my mail box after filling them out and to put up the outgoing mail flag. He needs to start the process now as it can take months and winter is approaching. I told him he doesn’t want to be homeless during the winter as it is a miserable and cold existence. I know from direct experience. With some stable income maybe we can get him an apartment. Housing is cheap here in the small town I live in.

I am also trying to get Ferret to go to the local mental health clinic once a month and see a doctor and get on some medications. He doesn’t like to talk about it though and it is like pulling teeth to get him to discuss his depression and mental illness. He needs some documentation and history of treatment to more easily get on disability.

When I was homeless, I would go by the clinic once a month to get my medications and to see the doctor. Seeing the doctor was free and each bottle of medication was subsidized by the county for only two dollars a bottle. So money is not a factor in Ferret obtaining this service. I think he is avoiding the issue because he doesn’t want to admit he has a problem.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Drink Up for Tomorrow May Never Come

George came by the house this morning wanting to borrow twenty more dollars for beer. I lied and told him I didn’t have it. Monday is my grocery buying day and I needed all the money I had. I did have a bottle of wine in my kitchen cabinet and told him he could have it, but I didn’t have a corkscrew to open it.

“I can open it,” George said. “Do you have a screw and a pair of pliers?”

I walked into the garage and got a long wood screw, a screw driver, and a pair of pliers. George screwed that screw deep into the cork and used the pair of pliers to pry the cork out leveraging with the head of the screw and the rim of the bottle.

“I would have never thought of doing that,” I replied as I laughed. “That’s why I have never drunk that wine as I couldn’t open it.”

I gave George a plastic cup and he proceeded to drink the whole bottle in a matter of minutes. The irony of drinking a 1999 vintage merlot from a plastic cup didn’t escape me.

“I am fixing to head down to Ferret’s campsite,” I told him. “You want to come?”

“I’ll give you a ride down there,” George replied.

I was kind of uneasy about riding with George after he had drank that bottle of wine, but said what the hell and got in the car. George cranked it up and we were on our way. George parked at the bank by the railroad tracks and we walked the rest of the way to the river and Ferret’s humble abode.

Ferret was drinking beer and cooking breakfast when we arrived. I noticed he had somehow acquired a propane powered camp stove and was boiling some water.

“What’s for breakfast?” I asked as we walked up.

Ferret pulled a package of Ramen noodles out of his backpack and showed it to me. George then asked Ferret for a beer. Ferret obliged by pulling a Miller High Life out of a case pack in his tent.

“I don’t see how you two can drink warm beer so early in the morning,” I replied forgetting my homeless days.

Ferret and George both laughed. I used to would drink from dawn to dusk to be honest when I was homeless.

We all sat and talked for the longest time as much beer was consumed. The conversation got on the topic of whether black women make better lovers than white women. George vehemently argued with me that black women do indeed make better lovers.

“You’ve been with a black woman once, haven’t you?” Sherman asked remembering a previous similar conversation we had on this subject.

“Yeah, and she wasn’t anything special,” I replied. “Actually, she was rather lame, but I was pretty drunk at the time.”

George scoffed and Ferret laughed.

“You just ain’t been with the right black woman,” George said. “I can hook you up.”

“Yeah, and I will have to pay twenty dollars for it as well,” I replied. “No thanks. I’m not about to pay for pussy.”

Ferret and George grew drunker and drunker until I got tired of their drunken rambling and nonsense. I bid them both farewell and walked on home. I still can’t get over how George opened that bottle of wine. Where there is a will there is a way I guess; a little alcoholic ingenuity.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Quiet Day

Well, I didn’t see George or any of the gang today. I was too lazy to ride down to Ferret’s campsite or the shopping center. Today was a laid back Sunday spent reading books, smoking cigarettes, and drinking coffee. I am reading Kate Chopin’s The Awakening.

I walked over at lunch time and ate with my parents. My father is such a wonderful cook. He learned to cook later in life when my mother came down with late onset schizophrenia. She spends much of her time in the bed these days. Dad cooked a pork loin, rattlesnake green beans, squash, boiled potatoes, and cornbread. It was a good old southern lunch and was delicious. I ate two helpings and was stuffed.

Hopefully, I will get down to Ferret’s campsite early in the morning. I have a few more movies I want to give to him. No doubt he will come back up to the house to recharge that DVD player as well. You can only watch about two movies on one charge. It will be good to see him. I also plan on hanging out for a while at the shopping center so maybe I will have some tales about Big S, Droopy, and the gang to write about in the next few days.

I hope you all had a great weekend and I appreciate your reading and your comments. You make this endeavor worthwhile. Take care and good night.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Entertainment Recharged

I was sitting here at the computer when I heard a sound outside. Rosie immediately began to bark up a storm and ran to the backdoor. I got up and walked over to look outside. It was Ferret recharging the DVD player on the side of my house. I walked out to talk to him.

“Hey man!” I said as I shook his hand. “I thought I had a burglar.”

“Hope you don’t mind me doing this,” He said. “I didn’t mean to startle you.”

“No, not at all. I told you it was okay,” I replied.

“Man, I really appreciate this,” He said. “It gives me something to do when I can’t sleep. I lay in my sleeping bag with it on my chest and watch.”

“Do you need some more movies?” I asked.

“Sure,” Ferret replied.

I have a very limited DVD collection. Most of them were Christmas gifts. I walked in and got Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and Spiderman 2.

“Have you seen these?” I asked Ferret as I handed him the movies.

“Man, I have wanted to see both of those,” He said. “I am going to buy me some beers and have movie night tonight.”

“They are both great movies,” I replied.

“Thanks man. You are a good friend and a kind man,” Ferret said as he put the movies in his backpack.

“Hey, it ain’t no thang,” I said. “I would have died to have one of those DVD players when I was homeless. Those were some long, cold and boring nights in the woods. I read a lot of books by candlelight.”

I asked Ferret if he wanted something to drink and he said no. He said he was going to walk down to the shopping center and would be back for the DVD player after it had charged. I felt kind of uneasy leaving it outside like that as it is so expensive, but let those fears pass. I might be gone when Ferret came back if I had brought it inside to charge. Hell, I would never use the damn thing anyway so I guess it doesn’t matter.

Down from a High

George came over tonight. He was feeling really hung over and was in a dour mood. He just wanted someone to talk to. Amazingly, he didn’t have any alcohol on him and was almost sober. I later learned that he had run out of money. We sat in my den and talked.

“I need to quit drinking,” He told me which surprised me completely.

“I worry about you man,” I replied. “I worry you are going to get cirrhosis of the liver.”

“What is cirrhosis?” George asked.

“It is where your liver fills with fatty tissue and quits functioning,” I replied.

“Shit, man, you didn’t have to tell me all that,” George said. “That sounds fucked up.”

“How much beer do you drink a day?” I asked him.

“Oh, I’d say about a case and a few bottles of wine,” He said.

“Damn, man, that is a lot of alcohol,” I replied. “Have you thought about alcoholics anonymous?”

“I don’t believe in all that Jesus, God and higher power shit,” He said. “I don’t want to be in a room with a bunch of drunks whining about their problems.”

“Yeah, I understand. That’s why AA never worked for me neither,” I replied.

You could tell George needed a drink really badly. His hands were shaking along with his voice. I felt so sorry for him.

“Let’s go get some beer,” I said. “It is on me.”

George’s eyes lit up and a smile formed on his face. I hated to see the man suffer.

“I was just about to ask you for twenty dollars to get some,” He said. “I am broke.”

I drove us down to Fat Albert’s convenience store and we got a twelve pack of George’s favorite beer, Milwaukee’s Best Ice. We then drove the short drive back home and immediately George cracked open a beer upon arriving and guzzled it down. I opened a beer for myself and slowly started to sip on it. We continued to talk until George had finished what was left of that twelve pack.

“You alright for a white boy,” George said slurring his words.

“I just know how it is,” I replied. “I have walked in your shoes. I was a drunk of the highest order.”

“Did you drink when you were homeless?” George asked.

I laughed heartily.

“Man, I was drinking a case of beer a day like you,” I replied. “I stayed fucked up for days on end until I had to sober up to drive into town.”

The effects of that strong ice beer started to hit George hard. He started to nod off from lack of sleep.

“Come on, man,” I said. “Let’s get you home.”

“What about my car?” George asked as he stumbled to stand up.

“I will come get you in the morning and bring you back over here,” I replied.

I drove George on home. George’s mother greeted us at the door. She was none too pleased to find her son once again drunk.

“Thanks you for bringing him home,” She said to me with a forced smile.

“I will get him tomorrow so he can get his car,” I told her then said good night as she helped him inside.

I guess you could say I “enabled” George tonight with his addiction. I just know from my own battle with addiction that you will find anyway to get it and it was much safer for me to buy it and for George to drink over here where I could take him home. George is such a good guy. I wonder what he would be like if he sobered up and turned around his life. Hopefully, someday I will find out. I will do my part to help him.

Friday, June 9, 2006

Accosted

I went for my early morning walk this morning. Last summer, I would hike for miles and miles everyday. My dream was to someday hike the Appalachian Trial. The last leg of my walk brings me by the shopping center where the grocery store resides. I noticed Dumpster Diving Dan busily scouring the dumpster behind the store. He looked busy so I didn’t bother him. I hadn’t seen him for a few days and it was tempting to go talk to him. Dan is a great old guy.

I walked on into the store and bought me a Gatorade and a pack of crackers. I went back outside and sat down next to Big S on the bench between the dollar store and the grocery store. Droopy was standing up against the wall looking enigmatic as ever.

“What’s up, man?” Big S said as I sat down.

“Before you start, I don’t have any cigarettes,” I replied.

Big S chuckled.

“Man, I don’t want yo cigarettes,” He said showing me the pack in his shirt pocket.

About this time a little old black lady came ambling out of the dollar store carrying a bag. Big S lifted his great heft and walked over to her. She looked so surprised to be confronted by this big man. Big S was twice her size and so imposing.

“Ma’am, my car has run out of gas. Could you spare a few dollars so I can get home?” He asked. Big S doesn’t even own a car.

The poor lady sat her bag down on the ground and opened her purse and pulled out a one dollar bill and gave it to him. I watched as she walked off and Big S came back over to sit down with a big grin on his face.

“Works every time,” He said feeling pleased.

“Man, don’t you have any scruples?” I asked. “That poor old lady probably doesn’t have much money.”

“What is a scruple?” Big S asked.

“You know, ethics and morality,” I replied.

“Man, I gotta feed myself,” Big S said smugly.

I shook my head, finished my Gatorade, and walked on home. Big S doesn’t have a moral bone in his body. He would panhandle candy off of a small child.

Thursday, June 8, 2006

Clean and Shaven

I once again made my way down to Ferret’s campsite this morning. Ferret loved the use of the DVD player and the movie. X-Men 3 lived up to his expectations. He then asked me if I would give him a ride down to the truck stop to get a shower and a shave. We walked back to my house and got in my car. Ferret didn’t have a razor or shaving cream so we swung by my father’s pharmacy and got some under the guise that they were for me.

After Ferret had showered, we ate some breakfast in the truck stop restaurant and talked over cups of coffee.

“I used to ride my motorcycle over here to shower when I was homeless as well,” I said.

“How long were you homeless?” Ferret asked.

“Six cold fucking months in the winter of 2003,” I replied.

“You were married, right?” Ferret asked.

“Yeah, for two years,” I replied.

The waitress came over to our table and refilled our cups of coffee. I told her thank you and she smiled the softest and most heartfelt smile. She was quite a specimen and her eyes mesmerized me. I was tempted to ask her for her phone number.

“What happened?” Ferret asked regaining my attention.

“What?” I asked having lost the flow of conversation.

“Your marriage,” He said.

“Oh, I had a bad drinking problem,” I replied. “She finally got fed up with it and wanted a divorce. I gave her everything except my motorcycle and walked away. That was when I became homeless. I had no where to go. I headed for the woods.”

“Man, that fuckin’ sucks,” Ferret said.

“Well, its just water under the bridge now,” I replied. “I try not to think about it too much these days.”

“Do you and her still talk?” Ferret asked.

“We haven’t spoken in over a year now,” I replied. “She is the librarian at our local library and has done well for herself I have heard. I am happy for her.”

“Was she sexy?” Ferret asked.

“What is this? Twenty questions?” I asked as I laughed. “Yeah, she was a sweetheart. She had one hell of a nice ass. I miss her sometimes. Life’s not meant to be lived alone.”

“I ain’t ever getting married,” Ferret said.

“Why?” I asked.

“I don’t want no woman telling me what to do,” Ferret said.

I laughed.

“Well, if you get married then that tends to happen from time to time,” I said with a smile. “Women have a mind of their own.”

The waitress brought our check and asked us if we wanted another refill. I asked Ferret if he wanted anymore. He said no.

“No thank you ma’am,” I said. “We are fine.”

I paid for our meals and I and Ferret headed back up the interstate into town. I dropped him off at the railroad tracks and watched for a moment as he walked off to his humble campsite in the woods. I then drove on home feeling thankful for my home and my loving family. Ferret has neither; just another day in the life of a homeless man. A good homeless man at that though.

Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Christmas in June

George was a no-show last night. He probably got waylaid at Pookie’s house. I wasn’t too disappointed as it was very late when he called and I was not far from the bed. I was just glad he was okay as he had disappeared for days. I saved his message last night and listened to it again this morning. I laughed once again; nothing like being called a “white cracka.”

I thrilled Ferret’s soul this morning. Ferret called it, “Christmas in June.” My sister, the doctor, gave me one of those expensive portable DVD players for Christmas last year. I have never even taken it out of the box as I don’t watch many DVDs. Well, this morning I took it out and charged the battery. I also burned the latest X-Men movie to a DVD. I rode down to Ferret’s campsite and handed the DVD player to him.

“What’s this?” Ferret asked.

“It is the new X-Men movie you have wanted to see so badly,” I replied.

Ferret hasn’t had the money or the transportation to go see it. It is kinda hard to stay up on current movies when you are homeless.

“You’re shitting me?” Ferret said as he grinned furiously.

“I am serious,” I said. “You can watch it on that thing. I burned it to DVD.”

“Ah, man, you are the best,” He replied shaking my hand.

“Promise me you are not going to pawn that DVD player for beer though,” I replied. “If you need beer that bad then bring the DVD player back and we will go get a twelve pack and I will pay for it.”

“Cross my heart and hope to die,” Ferret said. “I promise I won’t pawn it.”

“If you need to recharge it, walk over to the house and there is a plug just outside my backdoor on the side of the house,” I said. “The adaptor is in the bag.”

“Man, this is Christmas in June,” Ferret said with a grin.

I showed Ferret how to use it and he just marveled at the little contraption. I told him if he wanted some more movies to come by the house and I would burn some more. I then bid him farewell.

I made my way up to the shopping center. The only groupie out there was Droopy and Droopy is not much company so I headed on home to fix some breakfast and take my medicine. Thus ends today’s tale.

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

A Call to the White Cracka

I was sitting here at the computer about thirty minutes ago. The phone rang. As usual, I let my answering machine pick it up. My eyes lit up when I heard it was George. The message went as follows:

Hey you, white cracka. Pick up da phone. You there? I gots a case of beer and two packs of cigars with yo name written on it.


I walked over and picked up the phone.

“Where in the fuck have you been?” I asked George.

“I knew yo white ass was dere,” George replied. “You up for a late night party?”

“Man, shit, I can’t drink, but you can come over and we will shoot the shit while you have a few,” I replied. “I sure can smoke a few cigars though.”

“Alright,” George said. “I be over in about ten minutes.”

It has now been thirty minutes and still no George. I will write more when and if he arrives.

Sunday, June 4, 2006

A Sandwich of Help

Ferret walked over to my house late yesterday evening. I didn’t even know he knew where I lived. I guess Sherman told him. Ferret was hungry and wanted to borrow a few bucks to get something to eat. I didn’t have any money, but did fix him a couple of turkey and cheese on wheat sandwiches and gave him a coca-cola. He hungrily ate them as we sat on my front porch and talked. He said they were, “the best damn sandwiches he had ever eaten.” I had some really delicious deli sliced turkey that I had paid way too much for the other day.

The bad thing about living in a small town and being homeless is there are no soup kitchens or services for the homeless. If you run out of money or food stamps then you go hungry unless you can find someone to help. Thus Ferret’s recent conundrum when his food stamps had run out.

Ferret is obsessed with going to see the new X-Men movie. That’s all we talked about as we sat on my porch. I told him I downloaded it and saw it a few days ago and that it was good. I had to explain to ferret how I could see a current in-theater movie via the internet. He told me that when he finds a home he wants a computer and the internet and wants me to teach him how to use them. I told him I would.

George has mysteriously disappeared for a few days. No one has seen him. It is times like these I worry that his luck in avoiding the police has finally run out. I do hope he is not sitting in a jail cell. Most likely, he is just holed up over at Pookie’s house or his mom’s house drinking away. He does have a tendency to disappear from time to time. As soon as his drinking money runs out, he will be out and about again and driving his taxi to fund his habit. I guess I need to give him a call and see what’s up.

Friday, June 2, 2006

Interesting Tale from Last Night

It was around 3:00 a.m. I had run out of milk and was dying for a cold glass of it. I decided to drive over to the all night convenience store. As I pulled into the parking lot, this black lady came running up to my car waving a ten dollar bill.

“Will you be giving me a ride?” She asked. “I be paying you ten dollars.”

“Keep your money lady,” I said. “Let me buy my milk and I will take you if it is not far.”

“Oh, I be livin’ up behind Kroger,” She replied.

Kroger was only a short drive away from the convenience store so I agreed. I bought my milk and we both climbed into the car to start her journey home.

“I be knowin’ you be a good man when you refused the ten dollars,” She said. “I just don’t want to be gettin’ killed by some crazy white man out at three a.m.”

“Well, I can assure you I am not going to kill you,” I replied. “There is not a violent bone in my body.”

“You be knowin’ Merl that owns the diner?” She asked me.

“I and my mother eat there every Thursday night,” I replied. “She knows my dad really well.”

“She be my sister,” The Lady said.

“It’s a small world,” I replied.

The Lady was talking really fast and frantically and she couldn’t sit still. It was becoming obvious she was under the influence of someone. Why else would someone be walking in the rain at 3 a.m. and getting rides from strangers? Crack cocaine is a fucked up drug.

It was a short drive to her home and I dropped her off. It had just started to rain heavily again. The Lady had found me just at the right time. I drove on home in the rain and then poured me a huge glass of cold milk. Damn, it tasted so good. I then climbed into the bed and fell back to sleep.

Thursday, June 1, 2006

A Morning with Ferret

I spent a long time down at Ferret’s campsite this morning. He is doing well these days although he was drinking beer at such an ungodly hour. I don’t see how these guys can drink so early in the morning. The thought just makes my stomach turn.

Ferret then asked me to go get us some breakfast. I walked the short distance over the train tracks to Sarah Jay’s eatery and got us two breakfast plates. They contained scrambled eggs, grits, bacon, and a very large biscuit. We sat eating as we talked. Ferret paid me back the money for buying these and it was much appreciated as I am running low on money these days. I wonder where Ferret is getting money these days.

I finally bid Ferret farewell and stopped by the local train depot to watch a train pass. I then made my way up to the grocery store. Big S immediately started to beg me for a cigarette.

“Fuck off, you moocher!” I said tersely.

“You ain’t gotta be all like that,” Big S said.

I apologized and asked Big S to leave me alone about the cigarettes. He agreed and apologized as well. I actually felt sorry for the bastard.

I was hoping to catch George to catch up on what he has been doing. I tried to call him on his cell phone, but couldn’t reach him. I then rode my bike on home to write this. I am feeling very sad and languid today. I needed George to cheer me up. He always makes me laugh.