Thursday, August 31, 2006

Open thine eyes to be greeted by the sun…

I was startled awake by the loud thud of a car door slamming shut. I opened my eyes to be greeted by a bright midmorning sun shining in through the windows of my car. I immediately leaned up, reclined my seat back to its upright position and looked at my watch. It was 7:30 AM! I was amidst a sea of cars filling this vast parking lot as the employees had arrived to spend another drudge filled day sitting in their little cubicles in front of glaring computer monitors toiling for this corporate behemoth.

“Shit,” I muttered under my breath.

I had forgotten to set my alarm clock the night before and had overslept.

“Oh well,” I thought. “Everybody bowls a gutter ball sometimes.”

It was a wonderfully cool and comfortable night to sleep last night. My little portable weather station showed the temperature had fallen to a low of 69 degrees in the overnight hours. This allowed me to sleep with my windows rolled up creating a barrier between me and those pesky mosquitoes.

I cranked up my car and drove the short distance down the street to Fat Albert’s to imbibe in my morning cup of coffee. Carolyn was just finishing up counting her till and was eager to head home and get in the bed after a long night shift.

“Hey stranger!” She said as she greeted me enthusiastically as I walked in.

“Hey gal,” I replied as I walked pass the cash register to the back of the store to fix my coffee with extra cream and sugar.

Fat Albert’s was eerily quiet this morning as the great hordes of lottery addicts had yet to arrive and gamble their hard earned cash away. I am sure the store would be hopping by lunchtime as this is lottery central for the local area.

“Would you do me a favor?” Carolyn asked as I stepped back up to the counter. “I will pay you.”

“You don’t have to pay me whatever it is,” I replied. “We are the best of friends, remember?”

“Could you come by this morning and cut my grass?” She asked. “David (her son) is in Atlanta doing contract work all week and can’t cut it. It needs it bad. I am afraid it is going to get too overgrown.”

“I will be over within the hour,” I replied.

I drove on downtown to eat a quick breakfast of two egg McMuffins and an orange juice and then headed out to Carolyn’s house. She was already in the bed when I arrived and was fast asleep. She had left her garage door up so I could get to her riding mower.

I proceeded to try to crank it, but the battery was so weak it would barely turn the engine over. I put it in neutral and pushed it out into the driveway. I then pulled my car near and got my jumper cables out and connected the two batteries of both vehicles and the riding mower roared to life with the first turn of the key. It only took me around an hour to cut her grass as I circled her yard in an ever decreasing square. I didn’t even bother to wake her when I finished. I just parked the mower back in the garage and shut the door and went about my business. I will see her tomorrow morning. She needs her sleep.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Languid Days…

Its lunch time and I am sitting in the park eating my two .50 cent hotdogs from Fat Albert’s. Amazingly, these beautiful surroundings seem to be ignored for the most part by the local population and townsfolk. I feel as if I have garnered a new family; the regulars that have the good fortune of enjoying the surroundings much as me; the few that there are. We all respect each others boundaries and see each other everyday. We keep a comfortable distance.

One middle aged lady shows up around lunch time to walk laps around the perimeter of the park around noon. She is amazingly fit for what I believe to be her age. I admire her undaunted determination with which she so dutifully does her best to exercise everyday. I sometimes daydream about being seduced by such an older and attractive women twice my age. Various sexual fantasies vividly fill my mind as it wanders over the banal preponderances of AM talk radio emitting from my headphones.

A group of what I believe to be migrant Mexican farm workers shows up everyday to subsistence fish. They are a jovial bunch laughing and talking in that language I cannot understand. I watch intently as they clean their fish and proceed to grill them over hot coals on the grills the park provides. They look as if they live in abject poverty, but seem so happy and fulfilled. It reinforces home the fact I have learned over the years that money can’t buy you happiness.

The park ranger whom I have deemed Deputy Fife makes his rounds on the hour. He never fails everyday to accost the Mexicans and check their fishing licenses. He is a nervous, jittery fellow adorned in a light green shirt with a badge and khaki pants. His mode of transportation is a golf cart which always makes me smile as he tools around the park with an air of importance in such a laughable vehicle. I imagine he was once a police officer and had to retire to the relative obscurity of a park ranger due to stress and his nervous disposition.

Thunder rolls loudly on the horizon suddenly. The Mexicans spring into action and pack up all their fishing and cooking gear. What seems like twenty of them pile into one vehicle and drive off. The lady walking the perimeter park has long since left. I am left alone with my thoughts and my surroundings. My only companion is the voice of the daytime AM radio show hosts ranting endlessly on my radio about the war on terrorism and those evil Muslims; fervently trying to whip their listeners into frenzy over nonexistent threats. It astonishes me that citizens would turn to these talking heads to generate their view on the world and politics. I listen in with morbid fascination.

The thunder grows ever louder and the first heavy rain drops start to fall. It chases me to the sheltered confines of my car. I close the door and sit quietly as the rain picks up in intensity. I smile and feel so tranquil and content. For once, my life seems to have such a profound meaning. I am at one with the world and my surroundings. I open my laptop and proceed to capture today’s lunchtime moment in the park with zeal.

Good News Arrives on the Wind…

The scuttlebutt down at the shopping center this morning was that Ferret has managed to secure a bed in a group home for homeless, alcoholic men for a tenure of nine months. I looked up their website on the web and was dismayed to find this to be one of those religious programs (which aren’t? When did the Christians corner the market on trading in insolvent, indigent, and/or addicted men? ) where you are force fed sermons during the day of a fundamentalist nature (the website reeked of fundie). Ferret doesn’t have a religious bone in his body so I am kind of concerned as to how long he will actually stay and put up with all that pretentious nonsense. At least for the time being, he has a roof over his head, a bed, and three square meals a day. The poor dude deserved a break, but now he has to deal with Jesus freaks for nine months and their ignominious preaching just to get some help. Who knows? Maybe he will get born again. With winter coming on, this was good news to hear for Ferret’s sake despite the bible thumpin’ nature of the program. Ferret’s condition was degrading on a daily basis. My brother always told me, “You have to believe in something,” in regards to Alcoholics Anonymous and it’s religious overtones which often caused me to chide in distaste. Maybe the same will hold true for Ferret as well. I would much rather to not have anything but good to write about that fellow for a change if anything at all. Ferret deserves a break.

George wins the numbskull of the day award today. Big S said he had seen him earlier this morning and George related to him the story of his running over his mother’s mailbox last night. Big S said George was in an abnormally animated mode of discussion today as he shared the lurid details of his run-in with Postal Service property. Luckily, not much was harmed other than George’s pride and a $50 mailbox. I didn’t even have to ask Big S if he was drunk. It was a given. George is another individual in my life that is definitely burning his candle at both ends. Why do all these drunks gravitate towards me? It must be my alluring charm, wit, and discerning ear; my drunken gravitas. I seemed to have stamped on my forehead “Drunk? Yes, I will talk to you! Have a seat!”

Last night was unpleasantly hot and humid. A cold front blew through with an unceremonious whimper during the night bringing little relief and the storms ahead of it had dissipated long before it arrived much to my chagrin. We got a few brief sprinkles of rain as if the weather gods were mocking me and my weather obsession. The mosquitoes were also hellacious last night. I spent much of the night fending off the little blood sucking bastards instead of sleeping. It was too hot to roll up the windows of my car. There is no more miserable feeling than literally being eaten alive for hours on end by a foe you can barely see. Note to self: Get mosquito repellant today, pronto!

Morning arrived much to my relief with me sitting at my sunrise spot in the park. I sat eating a Payday candy bar and drinking a pint of milk as I welcomed in the magical hour. I looked at my watch and it seemed several hours had passed in a moment’s notice; I, living in my own little world that inhabits this dusty and cobweb festooned malfunctioning mind.

I had several people remark to me today about how much weight I have lost lately. The medications for schizophrenia are notorious for causing weight gain and not being able to lose weight. I am having the exact opposite problem these days. I rarely look into a mirror so this piqued my curiosity. One of the dollar stores has an old fashioned scale were you can weigh yourself for a dime. I got on it and weighed. 190 pounds. I have lost 30 pounds with no effort on my part. I seriously need to stop eating out of a can and get back to eating three nutritious meals a day again. My appetite has just been nonexistent though. I have to force myself to eat. I am fueled by cigarettes and diet cokes these days.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Becoming Unwired…

I was pleasantly surprised to find that there is a strong Wi-Fi signal emanating from the office building across from where I am camping at night and it’s unsecured! Joy! 24 hours of free internet access bliss! I had to run down to Wal-Mart and purchased an expensive 12 volt to 110 volt converter to use my laptop in my car. The batteries on my very old laptop are almost shot and barely hold a small charge these days. So, I am writing this from the comfy confines of my trusty steed as I settle down for the evening to wait for my favorite radio shows to air.

Pipe wrote a comment concerned about me and various aspects of my life. Pipe, rest assured that things are going well. We are in the very process of getting everything put in my name. I found it sad though that you thought my car camping experiments were not living a “true, adult life.” What in the hell is a true adult life anyway? I find most orthodox adults that I encounter on a daily basis to be boring, vapid, and dull individuals living equally boring, vapid, and dull lives. I am happy! I am doing something I very much enjoy. I revel in exploring alternative ways to living. While most adults are sequestered in their “safe” and “boring” boxes i.e. homes, I am out experiencing life and the forces of nature. I feel fully alive and invigorated! Also, due to the great amount of social anxiety that I experience, living in my car affords me a certain solitude and a feeling of safeness from encounters in which I do not wish to participate in. I am free from the prying eyes of my ever watchful family members.

Day 3 and the Adventure Continues…

George is intrigued by my car camping experiment. He has been my constant companion these past few days.

“You have a perfectly good bed to sleep in and a home and yo white ass, cracka ass is sleepin’ in your car,” He said with an air of incredulousness.

“Think of it as a camping trip,” I replied as I smiled undaunted.

“You white ass honkeys are crazy,” George said as he took another drink from his beer.

I thought about arguing the absurdity of drinking beer at 7 AM in the morning, but let it slide. Thus sets the scene for this morning’s foray into the lakeside park to cook breakfast on my camp stove. George watched intently as I boiled a pot of grits and then set it aside to fry some bacon.

“You’ve done this before,” George replied.

“I was homeless for six months, remember? This is second nature to me.”

George certainly didn’t have any problem in partaking of the bowl of grits and crumbled bacon I handed him. We both sat eating as the sun first rose over the trees on the far side of the lake.

“Brilliant!” I exclaimed as I took in another spoonful of food.

George demurely played it off as if it was no big deal. Soon, he was taking leave of me to go start his day of earning money via his fly-by-night taxi service. “The park has to be the most fucking boring place to spend your morning,” were his words to me as he got in his car. I laughed it off and bid him farewell. Little did he know that these treasured surroundings meant a great deal to me. They are akin to my fortress of solitude.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Company for Two…

I made the mistake of telling George where I was car camping yesterday evening. He came pulling up late last night blaring his gospel music.

“What’s up my brotha!” He exclaimed jovially from the open windows of his car as he pulled up.

“Just great!” I thought as my stealth camping spot was now revealed to all who passed by.

George got in my car with a case of Milwaukee’s Best Ice beer and proceeded to drink himself into oblivion. With each beer his speech grew more mangled and confused. Soon, he was passed out. I walked around the car to open the passenger’s door and released the lever for the seat to recline it. Sherman went flopping backwards as the seat reclined with a loud thud. He didn’t wake up until this morning when my alarm clock went off.

“Let’s move your car over to the shopping center,” I said.

George was still drunk as hell this morning and stumbled to get into his car. He did manage to drive it over to the shopping center and parked it. I then drove us down to the Waffle House to eat some breakfast hoping it would sober George up some.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Meeting Destiny at Noon…

It is very comforting to me to know that I can get to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting every noon in a local town. It is quite a lengthy drive, but well worth it if you are feeling sorry for yourself like I was this morning. I woke up with the funks. Mornings such as these are prime meeting time.

I managed to arrive at the meeting hall just mere minutes before the meeting was to begin. I walked in, grabbed an ashtray, and waved at a few familiar faces as I sat down. This meeting is the last one I know of in that you can smoke during the actual meeting. A smoky haze highlighted by the noon sun shining in through the windows already filled the room and drifted on the currents of the air. This meeting hall was once a Catholic Church and the bright noon sun also shone through the old stained glass windows splaying a myriad of vibrant colors upon the floor and the walls. It brought a tranquil feeling upon me.

The meeting began and we went through the usual routines of reading the traditions, promises, and the 12 steps. Soon, it was time to talk and the chairperson opened up the room to do so. A very beautiful young woman spoke up and immediately caught my attention.

“Hi, I’m Angela and I am an alcoholic,” She said and then began to speak.

I leaned forward in my chair placing my elbow upon the table and resting my chin within my hand. God, she was gorgeous and so eloquent. I was mesmerized as she told us what problems she was having today. I looked closely at her hand and she wasn’t wearing a wedding band.

She ended up talking for 20 minutes and that 20 minutes passed by quickly in a blur of infatuation. I was far too shy to talk today in a room consisting mostly of strangers and people I was unfamiliar with. I quietly slipped out the front door after emptying my ashtray and returning it to the ledge below a window when the meeting was over.

I drove on over to Charlie Joseph’s Hotdogs for lunch still thinking about that woman. I hadn’t been this stricken by someone in years.

“Can I take your order?” Rang out interrupting my daydream.

I was quickly brought back into the world at hand. A weasely looking teen-ager stood at the cash register looking at me intently and waiting for my order. His glasses had started to slip off the edge of his nose and he reached up with his hand to push them back on.

“Yeah, I want two slaw dogs, a small order of fries, and a medium diet coke,” I replied finally composing myself.

“That’s two slaw dogs, a small order of fries, and a medium coke,” He repeated. “Could I interest you in an order of our fried hot pepper poppers?”

“No thanks,” I said.

Within moments, my order was ready and I walked back up to the counter to grab the tray of food and go sit down. I sat at the back of the restaurant in front of a window watching the cars whir by on the highway. I ate my meal still mesmerized by that beautiful, young lady named Angela that spoke today. Various scenarios of romance played out in my mind. I was regretting the fact that I was not forward enough to ask her for her phone number. I may never see her again.

Oh well, they say in A.A. that you should sometimes wait years and get quite a good stretch of sobriety before ever even entertaining another relationship. Getting sober is hard enough without adding another person’s wants, desires, and emotional needs to the mix. I can take comfort in my dreams though. Someday, maybe a beautiful, kind, and eloquent soul like Angela will enter my life and give it all the more meaning. Until then, my dreams and daydreams will have to suffice.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Mr. Magoo, to you!

The cacophony of cicadas was almost deafening as I walked down to the shopping center this morning. The heat and humidity was already impressive at 9 AM. I had broken out in a sweat just from a slow walk. Dark patches had formed on my light grey Auburn Tigers t-shirt.

George was sitting in his car eating a tin of sardines and carefully placing each morsel on a cracker as I walked up. He immediately busted out laughing when he saw me almost choking on the food he was chewing.

“You look like a fucking Mister Magoo!” He exclaimed referring to my not so stylish glasses.

I was having a hell of a time with my contacts this morning and Maggie had chewed up my good pair of glasses. I had to fall back on a very outdated pair of lenses that I have had for years and years.

“Shut the hell up man,” I said self consciously.

“You are the goofiest looking fucker with those damn things on,” George said as he continued to laugh. “You could pass for Waldo.”

I smiled when George said that as his laughing grew contagious. I couldn’t help but start laughing along. George got to laughing so hard that he dropped the cracker and sardine he was holding on the floor board of his car. He sveltely pushed it under his seat with the heel of his foot. I am sure that will be an interesting smell in a few days. George’s car is not the most clean of vehicles thats for sure. It might add to the ambiance instead of taking away from it.

“Yeah, they do look pretty ridiculous, don’t they?” I asked. “I have an appointment on the 30th to get new glasses.”

“I would just walk around blind,” George replied.

“Man, I would be bumpin’ into walls and posts and shit. I am blind as a bat.”

George continued to eat his Sardines and crackers. He would eat a whole cracker and a sardine covered with a liberal dollop of Texas Pete’s hot sauce. Each mouthful would be followed by a swallow of Milwaukee’s Best Ice beer. My stomach churned as he imbibed in such smelly cuisine.

“Oh man, you are making me sick at my stomach. The beer is the kicker. That has to taste nasty,” I replied as I think I threw up a little bit in my mouth.

George put another sardine on a cracker and stuck it right up under my nose.

“Fuck man, you fucker,” I said as I quickly got out of the car.

George was going to spoil my coveted daily lemon/lime Gatorade. I could still hear him laughing hysterically as I walked on up towards the grocery store to buy my drink and then head back home before it got too hot.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Those Hallowed Halls of Alcoholics Anonymous…

I liked it when Dumpster Diving Dan called the meeting rooms of A.A. those hallowed halls a few weeks ago. It has stuck in my mind ever since. It is an apt description for a sanctuary for those of us that struggle with this “disease.”

I rode my bike tonight and daringly took a shortcut through the seediest part of town. Even Sherman, a black man, will not travel through this part of town and he beds a crack whore. Broken beer and malt liquor bottles were shattered at intervals all over the side walk. The broken glass twinkled like jewels in the late afternoon sunshine. I had to carefully navigate my mountain bike so as not to puncture a tire.

I passed many decrepit houses that were condemned to be burned down by controlled fire via the fire department in future months. A few had already succumbed. To think those decrepit old homes once harbored generation after generation of families. Now they are just sad testaments that all things do eventually come to an end.

I was extremely careful not to make long eye contact with the many forlorn looking men walking the street seemingly listlessly. To do so by a white man to a poor, downtrodden black man would have been an affront. The pall of poverty hung heavy upon me until I passed that corridor of despair. I emerged on the far end of 5th street unscathed having taken my chances.

I arrived at the meeting hall and chained my bike to a front porch post. I walked inside to be greeted by cool air and the heavy aroma of brewing coffee. The room was already half full and several people got up to shake my hand, give me a hug, and greet me. I felt as if I was finally home after being gone on a long, hard journey. I have never met so many contented and happy people than in these hallowed halls (other than the occasional crotchety, sullen old dry drunk and we have a few that I avoid). I desperately want to find the secret to the happy lives these many people lead without drinking. It is definitely contagious.

After the meeting, a young fellow had heard me share and walked up to me. He looked a good ten years my junior. He had picked up his white chip tonight marking his first day of sobriety. The room had erupted in applause as that shy, young man sheepishly walked up to the podium to get that chip.

“I heard you talk tonight and was inspired by what you said,” He told me.

I thanked him and congratulated him on picking up the hardest chip you will ever get in A.A. It takes a damn fair share of courage to admit you’re a drunk to a full room of strangers and to walk up in front of that room to humbly start a new way of living.

“Will you be my temporary sponsor?” He asked me earnestly.

“Bud,” I replied. “I am far too new in the program to guide you. I appreciate you asking though. Come over here with me.”

We went to speak to my sponsor, Phillip, to inquire if he would take him on temporarily. Phillip is a literal demigod in our local chapter of A.A. Philip agreed as long as he promised to call once a day to check in.

“Let’s get you some phone numbers,” I then told the young man as we walked around the room asking various old timers for said numbers.

In a matter of minutes, the fellow had over twenty numbers to call if he needed to talk to someone about drinking. This is an aspect of the program I have utilized sparingly due to my phobias surrounding the phone. I know I am missing an important part of A.A.

“If you ever feel the need to drink and it is uncontrollable,” I said. “Call me no matter how late it is at night. I will come pick you up and we will drive over to the Waffle House and drink some coffee and talk.”

He smiled and shook my hand vigorously thanking me. Most alcoholics, when they come into the program, have lived a life of solitude. It is sometimes amazing, as it was for me that if you tell of room full of people your worst deeds or your darkest secrets; they still shake your hand and tell you to come back with a smile or a hug. They treat you as family. Suddenly, from the darkest throes of despair and solitude, you find welcome-ness and understanding.

I rode home on my bike this evening feeling as if I had finally grasped an important part of the program that has so eluded me these past few weeks. It is in the service to others that you find sobriety and not in self motivated, selfish aims to quit drinking for personal reasons. I pulled up into my driveway as the last light of the afternoon made its presence known. The western horizon was ablaze in hues of orange. I was overcome by a deep feeling of contentment and serenity. Once again, I didn’t have to drink today and that is a miracle.

Ah, the Magical Hour…

The first light on the horizon starts to show as the songs of crickets start to fade. I sit cross legged at the open door of my tent smoking my pipe. I take gentle pulls of smoke from it and slowly inhale and then gently exhale. The wispy smoke curls around my face. It is such an invigorating moment for me. I imagine I am a hobbit in the shire partaking of the coveted Longbottom Leaf.

The land around me grows so still and quiet in this early morning moment. I quietly listen for and await the magical hour to arrive. It comes in almost an instant. First, one melodious call of a cardinal rings out in my backyard followed by the plaintive call of a mourning dove. The chorus of birds then grows and grows as the minutes pass. The magical hour arrives in a rush of bird song. I smile and take another long pull from my pipe. It is time to finally head for bed. I crawl out of my tent, zip up the door and head inside. I must get some sleep to awake in time this afternoon to enjoy another spectacle of a Southern summer: those wonderful afternoon thunderstorms. Good night, good world. You brought me much pleasure this morning.

Come in From the Dark…

I came in from outside to get a diet coke as I was thirsty. Out of curiosity, I decided to check my email. I received this comment tonight…

I just can't get over how much people are willing to spend on cigarettes, when they openly understand the health hazards involved.

Or how about: Don't buy cigarettes anymore and just break your habit.

That, to me, was the most shocking part of the story.

I thought I would quickly add my two cents on this subject before I head back out to my tent for an enjoyable night of listening to the radio and…OH MY GAWD, Smoking.

There have been hundreds of research studies on why so many people with schizophrenia smoke. Check it out for yourselves. Quoted from one study:

UK Mental Health Research Center, Eastern State Hospital, Lexington, KY 40508, USA.

In several countries, the prevalence of smoking among schizophrenia patients is extraordinarily high (70% or greater). A State hospital survey demonstrated that after correcting for other factors, inpatients who have schizophrenia are more likely to be smokers than are persons in the normal population or even other chronic psychiatric inpatients. These findings suggest that neuroleptic treatment and the hospital environment cannot completely explain the high prevalence of smoking. The relationship between smoking and schizophrenia may be explained by a combination of three factors. One factor is the great difficulty for schizophrenia patients to quit smoking. Another is late onset: some schizophrenia patients start to smoke after the onset of psychosis. A third is increased early onset: schizophrenia patients may start daily smoking in greater numbers during adolescence (before the onset of their psychosis) than do persons in the normal U.S. population. Daily smoking is usually considered a sign of nicotine addiction and is used by epidemiological surveys to define the prevalence of smokers (most smokers smoke daily and very few smokers do not smoke every day). The increased early onset suggests that familial factors may increase the prevalence of smoking even among patients who have not yet shown psychotic symptoms. It is hypothesized that smoking among family members in families with genetic loading for schizophrenia may be a marker for those at risk of developing schizophrenia.


I am unsure of any studies on this that exist, but I am far more likely to commit suicide due to my mental illness than dieing of smoking related ailments. Believe me. Smoking is the least of my worries these days and is a great comfort to me and helps assuage some of the symptoms of my illness.

As far as the cost is concerned, $38 dollars of cigarettes will last me quite a long time. Usually around three weeks as I have been smoking around one cigarette per hour. At least, I try to limit myself to that amount due to the costs. If I smoked according to my inclinations then I would be smoking three packs a day at an astronomical cost. I also rarely drive and can go weeks (4 or 5) on one tank of gasoline costing around $30. I am pretty sure you are probably spending more in gasoline for your vehicle in three weeks than I am spending in cigarettes during that time period. I could argue that by burning fossil fuels and contributing to possible global warming and a peak oil crisis that you are not only affecting your future health wish, but those of your children and grandchildren as well. Of course, this is supposition as you may not even own a vehicle, but I thought it was an interesting case in point.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Food in my Belly and a Tent in the Backyard…

It had been two days since I ran out of food. Hunger will push you to do things you normally wouldn’t do. I have a garage door opener to my parent’s house. I knew my mother goes to eat Mexican every Tuesday night with a friend and was not home. I walked over, opened the garage, and then turned off the alarm. My father keeps the checks for our joint checking account in his bedside table. I went upstairs and got one of the checkbooks. I felt like I was breaking and entering even though it is my parent’s house. It was the weirdest feeling.

I then drove to Kroger and bought $67 dollars in groceries; enough to get me by till Monday. And then drove to Fat Albert’s and bought two cartons of cigarettes for $38 dollars. The first thing I did when I got home was to microwave two hotdogs and crack open a diet coke. They were delicious! I was so hungry.

I then called my father and told him what I had spent so he could deduct it from the checking account as he keeps the ledger at his business. He really didn’t know what to say to me. I tend to be submissive to him and he rarely sees me take charge like this. I also told him of my plans for Monday’s appointment to get all my medications and money transferred to the mental health clinic and a social worker.

“You do what you want to do,” He replied. “You are the one that is going to have to live with it though.”

“Love ya Dad and goodnight,” I said. “I hope you didn’t have to work too hard today.”

We then both hung up the phone.

I thought it was going to be World War III after what I did. I think Dad was just tired and wasn’t in the mood for arguing tonight. He had worked his usual ten hour day. I blew a sigh of relief that that ordeal had worked out so well. I was hungry dammit! There are no soup kitchens or charities around here were I could go eat.

I am going to pamper myself tonight. I set up my tent in the backyard and lugged my summer weight sleeping bag out and put it in it. I am fixing to go lie down to a serenade of crickets and katydids and listen to my nightly radio programs. Maybe, something interesting will be on Coast to Coast AM tonight. I have to wait until 1 AM before the program starts though out of the station in New Orleans. I am going to continue my book by candlelight until that time.

Good night my gentle blog readers and thanks for reading. A new era in my life dawns on Monday.

The Stillness of the Night

It’s late at night. I can’t sleep. Everything in this small town is closed. The sound of a train roaring through downtown drowns out the katydids and crickets. Its horn wails. My mind wanders as I think that train is headed to Atlanta and I wonder who is driving it. The trains here tend to be nocturnal. Wanderlust overcomes me as I want to ride downtown, hop aboard a freight car, and head out for adventures unknown with my Kelty backpack upon my back.

Early this morning, I was reading the tale of a young man who set out to live in the backwoods of the Alaskan wilderness. His adventure ended in disaster and he died exposed to the elements and animals. He was unprepared. What would make someone’s life become so unbearable that they would want to give up everything and set out on such a doomed escapade? I know the answer. I’ve felt that pain. It sometimes becomes so overbearing that you are willing to give everything up and just disappear to escape your current life.

Alienation is the worst pain to bear. We are all such social creatures. Humans have evolved to work in interactive groups and to support each other. All our lives are intricately entangled in this web known as society. The days of the self reliant Daniel Boone are certainly over. These skills of lone survival have been increasingly replaced by our dependence upon each other and the technology and perks of society that we have grown so accustomed to (and I would argue enslaved to). Just as I am dependent upon my father to just feed myself.

I don’t really know where I am going with this essay other than the point that I want to escape my current life. I would like nothing more than to just walk out my back door with my backpack upon my back to live by my wits; to escape the oppressive, overbearing pall of my family and society. Yes, it would initially be hard. I have led a pretty much sheltered life other than my homeless days. But my homeless days taught me that I could survive through some harsh conditions.

It’s funny, but I felt so alive when I was homeless and lived in the woods. I felt connected to Mother Nature as she was my home and caretaker. Those cold nights laying in my sleeping bag as a coyote yelps; the hoot of an owl far off in the forest; those crisply cold mornings were I would unzip my tent door to find the frost covering the landscape so thick it looked like a winter wonderland. The only downside was the alienation I felt. I felt so alone. I knew that if disaster were to strike then it could be weeks before anyone found my body. That was always a sobering thought. That is what keeps me from walking out my backdoor right this minute. I don’t want to live the rest of my life in solitude; an outcast hermit. I, as most humans, yearn for the company of others.

Well, I have rambled on enough this morning. I think I shall go curl back up into my bed and dream of adventures, freedom, and good food. Sleep is my last great escape from this life I lead. Those dreams are certainly more exciting and fulfilling than my awoken life. I hope you all have a good day.

Monday, August 21, 2006

The Balls a Rollin’

Well, I finally got in contact with a social worker this afternoon. I have an appointment with East Alabama Mental Health to get everything set up next Monday at 8:30 AM. I have to bring proof of income (which will be an interesting experience to get from my father. I will probably need a bank statement) and my Medicare parts A, B, and D cards. I am just glad to finally get things going. I was nervous as hell talking on the phone as she asked me all sorts of questions. My voice was shaky.

Hopefully, this will start to bring to an end the chaos that has been my life these past few months with regards to my income, medications and family relationships. I am just unsure how the mental health agency is going to handle being my representative payee though. That will certainly prove interesting as well.

Close Encounters of the Scare the Shit out of ya Kind…

I rode my bike down to the shopping center this morning before the heat of the day hit. It was a beautiful morning as I rode through my neighborhood; pleasantly cool with a gentle breeze. The sun was still hanging low on the eastern horizon shining with an orange blaze of glory and casting long, dark shadows throughout the neighborhood. The cicadas were already earnestly calling their staccato calls which would only grow in intensity as the heat of the day built. That sound brings back such fond memories of listless childhood summers.

I passed the local newspaper’s office and saw Dumpster Diving Dan’s Toyota Tacoma truck parked behind the shopping center. Its bed was filled with old furniture. I rode over to talk to him. I was glad to see him.

“Can you believe someone threw all this good furniture away?” He asked excitedly.

I took a long look at it in the back of his truck. It looked like junk to me and needed some serious refinishing. I guess the old saying that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure still rings true.

“Yeah, that is pretty nice stuff,” I said lying so as not to hurt his feelings.

“Did you feed the seagulls this morning?” I then asked.

“Yeah,” Dan said. “I am starting to get some flak from the city though. The flock has really grown.”

“Seagulls are rats of the sea. Mere vermin to most,” I thought after Dan said that. They are precious to Dan though.

“I hate to hear they are giving you a hard time,” I replied.

“Yeah, a cop said it was a health hazard and that he was going to speak to someone higher up about it,” Dan said.

“Well, I doubt there are any ordinances against feeding seagulls,” I replied.

“Let’s hope not,” Dan said.

I left Dan to continue his dumpster diving and rode on around to the front of the shopping center. I was hoping to find George out front and he was. He had called me earlier leaving a message that he would be down there most of the day. George was in rare form today. I chained my bike to a post out front and walked over to his car. Cigar smoke was billowing out the windows. He had on his sunglass and was bearing a big white toothy grin upon his face. I smiled as he looked humorous.

“What’s going on man?” I asked as I sat down in the passenger’s seat.

The door shut with a loud creak.

“Man, I had a fucked up night last night,” He replied.

“What happened?”

“I lost fifty dollars in a poker game over at Pookie’s house,” He said. “It was two days worth of work. You ain’t got twenty dollars I could borrow?”

“Dude, I was hoping you would let me borrow twenty dollars,” I replied. “I am broke as hell.”

As we were sitting there I saw HIV/AIDS Guy come out of the dollar store looking suspicious with a backpack slung over his shoulder.

“What in the hell is he doing?” I asked George. “There is nothing in that store he would want to buy.”

“He is boosting batteries and stuff and selling them for crack.”

“What a dumb-ass,” I replied.

“Yep, he ain’t the smartest of niggas,” George said as he laughed.

About this time a cop car came slowly cruising through the parking lot. George had an open forty ounce bottle of malt liquor between his legs. He scrambled to screw the top back on and slide it up under the seat. He then reached for a pack of gum on the dash and put a piece in his mouth to mask the smell of beer in case the cops decided to ask us some questions. The cop car slowly drove by eyeing us suspiciously, but kept on cruising.

“Damn you live dangerously man,” I said.

“I’m tellin’ ya brotha,” George replied. “My luck has been fucked up these past few days. That was a close call.”

“Good thing they didn’t run your license plate or that failure to appear warrant would pop up.”

“Tell me about it!” George exclaimed.

After the close call with the police, George decided to move on to greener pastures or so he hoped. He was headed back to Pookie’s house to try his luck with his last ten dollars in another poker game if he could get one up and running. I bid him farewell. I then walked over to Big S and managed to borrow two dollars from him. I purchased my Gatorade, sat outside to drink it, and then rode on home. I’m telling ya. Having two bucks feels like a million dollars when you have been as broke as I have been this past week. That Gatorade tasted like liquid gold. Big S also earned a few good karma points in my book as well. I could almost forgive him for accosting that poor, little old lady for a dollar the other day.

An Unforgettable Evening…

I will never forget that cool fall evening in 1984. I had been to school all day and was at my weekly Boy Scout meeting. We had an interesting bunch of kids that attended my local Boy Scout hut. We were all more interested in smoking white owl cigars and looking at the latest edition of Playboy magazine secluded in the wooded confines behind the hut rather than earning badges and becoming eagle scouts. We had an inept scout leader and could get away with this most Wednesdays.

I remember waiting on mom to pick me up after the hour was over. I was standing on the front of the porch with some other kids as my uncle pulled up into the parking lot. His car at the time was unmistakable.

“Now this is strange,” I thought as my uncle was never much of a family man or very family friendly.

He meekly walked up to the porch to talk to me.

“Andrew, something bad has happened,” He said. “You’re mother can’t come to get you. I am going to take you home.”

My heart leapt up into my throat as various disastrous scenarios played out in my mind. “Was mom dead? Had there been a car accident? Was my grandmother sick?” were some of the scenarios that came forth.

My uncle has always been a very shy and socially awkward man. I don’t think he ever felt comfortable around kids. It was a long drive back home as he tried to explain what had happened.

“Your house almost burned down,” He finally said bluntly after many awkward moments. “It is in pretty bad shape.”

That moment was forever etched into my mind. The words echoed over and over in my head. That day turned our foreseeable lives into chaos and uncertainty for many months ahead. We were, for all intents and purposes, homeless. I thought it was my fault because I had sinned by smoking those cigars and looking at that Playboy magazine. God was punishing me. I felt guilty for years after that incident.

We pulled up to the house to a barrage of fire trucks and scrambling firemen. Smoke was still billowing out the broken windows. A large crowd of neighbors had gathered in the street in front of the house to gawk. I saw my father standing in the front yard with his hand to his head looking dismayed. I timidly walked up to him, afraid of him and his reaction, but managed to meekly ask what had happened.

“Your mother burned up the house,” He tersely said with a fiery mad look in his eyes. “She left French fries frying on the stove and the oil bubbled over and caught fire. She forgot about it to go pick up your brother and you.”

“Oh hell,” I thought. It was my fault after all. God was punishing me. I had sinned and brought down his wrath.

The firemen finally had the fire put out and were putting up their equipment as I and another neighborhood friend walked up to the front door to look inside. I will never forget that acrid smell of smoke. It clung to your clothes. All the walls were blackened and there was considerable heat damage. The kitchen was a complete loss. I remember standing at the front steps as water poured out in little rivulets upon the floor of the front door and down those steps.

“Andrew, get the fuck away from the house!” My father screamed at the top of his lungs as he ran towards me. “You are just getting in the way!”

That incident frightened this child to death. I had never seen my father so virulently angry at me. It took years for me to forgive my father for that embarrassing moment. All the neighbors and neighborhood kids were watching on as my father berated me and cursed at me. I don’t think I had ever been so embarrassed in my life. I still have scars from that moment to this day and remember it so vividly.

We ended up living with my grandmother for a month and what a crowded house it was. Tempers were constantly flared. I lost my beloved cat that month as well as she disappeared to never return confused in the change of addresses. We later on got an apartment and life returned to some normalcy. It took months and months to bring our home back up to livable standards at much expense. My father never again let my mother cook or touch the stove.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Great Plans get Squashed…

Well, I just got my mountain bike road worthy again. I had forgotten that I had a hand air pump attached to the frame and pumped up my tires and oiled the chain and sprockets with chain oil. I was going to ride the four miles to my AA meeting tonight for exercise, but we have some huge storms on the way meandering to the southwest towards us. I am not sure if I shall risk it or not. With my luck, I will get caught in a torrential downpour. Damn, the best laid plans of mice and men…

Fond Summer Memories…

Every summer for most of my childhood I would go off to summer camp for six weeks accompanied by my brother. My sister would go to our sister camp Greystone. It was a prestigious and upscale camp in North Carolina that my parents would pay thousands of dollars for us to attend. They were absolutely the best times of my life. I was never happier than those six weeks at Falling Creek Camp for Boys. I would always cry when I had to come home and this perplexed my parents. They thought I would be glad to be home after being away so long. My brother hated it and cried the six weeks he was there. He never was the outdoorsy type. He once cried for a whole week because he had spilt Ear Dry for swimmer’s ear in his toothpaste. He thought he would be poisoned and wrote multiple letters home pleading with my parents to come and get him and take him to a poison control center. My mother cried and worried the whole time he was gone she would later say. His letters were so pitiful.

I have always been interesting in hiking and camping and summer camp gave me so many opportunities to explore the trails of the Appalachian Mountains and their surroundings. I will never forget one week long camping trip to Cold Mountain, North Carolina when the temperatures got down into the forties in July! I was astonished and amazed! I was never discomforted by sleeping on the ground in sleeping bags or eating freeze dried meals. I also learned so many other things like mountain biking, canoeing, kayaking, riflery, archery, etc. I once went on a week long canoeing and camping trip and contracted infantigo on my butt and couldn’t sit for a week afterwards. The camp nurses took good care of me though and it soon cleared up.

It was also a place I fit in. The atmosphere was very alternative and the staff encouraged us to be creative and individual. Conformity was disdained. I reveled in these types of surroundings and made some of the best friends of my life. I was always socially awkward as a child and making such friends was a grand social learning and novel experience for me. People actually liked the weird little slightly overweight kid with glasses! Who would have thought?

I later graduated on to become a counselor in training in my teens and then to become a full fledged counselor during my college years. I even worked on the kitchen staff one summer which was a very interesting experience to say the least; feeding hundreds of kid’s breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We had a wonderful chef who was this very elderly black man who was mute. He lived at the camp year around in a little wood heated cabin behind the kitchen. His name was Tommy and he was such a gentle soul. I will never forget those big vats of spaghetti and meatballs he cooked to perfection on those huge industrial grade gas stoves. The kitchen would smell wonderful and the kids would stand outside the locked screen doors anxiously waiting to be let in for their meal accompanied by their counselors. Falling Creek was renowned in the industry for its food.

Later, when I was homeless and older, I contacted the camp director asking for a volunteer position for just food and board. The director declined saying for legal reasons that I must be on the payroll. I remember feeling so disheartened. Here I was without a home, feeling desperate and miserable; hoping that I could recapture some of those wonderful memories of my youth and early adulthood.

I will always have those memories though and they are the highlight of my life. For once in my life, I fit in and was happy. I had friends. I had fun. I had a life. Maybe, someday I can recapture those experiences once again. Like Annabel said in her latest post on her blog, I have a choice. One big choice gets made on Monday with a phone call and I am anxious to get things underway. Wish me luck!

Lazy Sundays

I stayed up way too late last night listening to Coast to Coast AM. I just lay in the bed, smoking cigarettes and listening to their discussions on “shadow people” and ghosts.

There is a graveyard way out a dirt road nearby that is reported to be haunted. It used to be a black, country church and was reportedly burned down by the Klu Klux Klan in the early nineteen hundreds. The myth is that if you go out to the graveyard at midnight you can see spirits. Many times in high school we would go out there to scare our girlfriends into holding us tight. We never did see any spirits, only the spooky darkness and stillness of a deserted graveyard way out in the woods well away from any habitation. Some of the tomb stones are so old that the names and dates have been weathered away. Those people and their remains have long been forgotten. It can often bring a feeling of melancholy over me if I ever ride out there to know the someday too my tomb stone will be weathered beyond recognition and I will be a long forgotten memory.

I finally got up around 10 AM and ate a quick breakfast of some strawberry yogurt. It was way past due date, but tasted fine. My food stores are running critically low. I only have four frozen chicken pot pies, a package of thick sliced bacon, and a package of sliced sharp cheddar cheese left to eat. To fill myself up last night, I ate a whole jar of zesty dill pickle spears; sodium overload for sure. I am too stubborn to ask my father for any help in obtaining more groceries. I am tired of having to go to him for everything. Oh well, I could stand to lose a few pounds these days anyway.

A light bulb went off into my head this morning on the search for more spare change. “Go look in your car,” I thought. In my little change container, I managed to scrape up enough change to buy my morning Gatorade and a loaf of bread. I will be eating cheese and mayonnaise sandwiches for the next few days it seems interspersed with the occasional doled out chicken pot pie. I did see Big S this morning, but was avoiding him. I am disgusted with him with about how he treated that little old lady yesterday. It overcame my urge to even garner a tale today to write about.

I am starting to trust Maggie more and more in letting her stay outside during the day. I know she gets tired of being cooped up in this house with nothing to do but sleep all the time. This morning she managed to find an uneaten corn on the cob and had the best time chewing on it for the longest time; where she found that I will never know. I don’t run the air conditioner during the day so I leave the back door open and she comes back inside when she needs a drink, some food or a rest. She likes to spend much of her time over at the neighbor’s house. They have a little mutt of a dog that is perpetually caged in a little 6” X 4” fence. It is the saddest sight to see and it brings me some peace to know that Maggie likes to go over there and give that poor little dog some social canine contact. That little dog barely has enough room to escape his own excrement. I have nicknamed the dog “scruffykins” due to his rough looks and unkempt appearance.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Thanks,

I like Pipe Tobacco's idea of writing a weekly “thanks” for his readers that comment. I really appreciate the warm and heartfelt comments I received on the blog today and tonight. It is nice to know I have some wonderful online blogging friends with which to share my life. Many of you who faithfully blog and write about yours as well have enriched my life in immeasurable ways. I get to share with you in your joys, trials, and tribulations.

Annabel wrote a wonderful post tonight titled “Choice” that came at the right time in my life. I suggest those of you up late go over and read it. It was very inspirational and motivating. I loved the quotes at the end of the post. I printed it out to remind me of my own choice in my life and my situation. She really surprises me sometimes with her wisdom at such a young age.

I also especially enjoyed Leann's comment about the weather in Alaska this evening. You know me. I am weather obsessed. It fascinated me that there is already snow in the foothills and the temperatures are so cold at night already. They really do have short summers up there. It will be late October/early November before we even get our first frost here (if then) and not long after that the colors of fall start to show in the trees and in their leaves. September is just another summer month here; hot and humid.

Saturdays are a special night full of familiar and comforting routines for me. I usually watch my British comedies until ten. They air such classics here as Are You Being Served? and Keeping up Appearances. I have seen all the episodes maybe three or four times, yet tune in every Saturday night religiously to watch my familiar favorites.

Around ten, I come back to my computer desk. Fire up Windows media player and listen to the weekend airing of Mick Williams' Cyber Line. That radio show is actually horrible and you would probably hate it and find it boring, but I just love it. It has just become a familiar part of my weekend ritual and I must listen. It is basically just three guys bantering for three hours about computers, linux, NASA, and such.

Well, let me get back to my radio program. The commercials are almost over. I will head to bed sometime around 1 AM tonight after it finishes airing.

Ebbs and Flows…

I realized my writing and my stories have taken a turn for the worst these past few weeks. Please understand that I suffer from paranoid schizophrenia. I am not saying that for sympathy, but because it is a fact of my life and effects my persona and demeanor at times. It also affects me as a writer. I have to live a kind of sheltered and quiet life and the chaos involving my father these past few months has sent me into a tailspin. It is time to bail out and open the parachute. I am going to call that number Monday morning and get the ball rolling and changing my representative payee for my disability.

I realize that most don’t want to come here to read another whiney blog about mental health issues, social security disability, homelessness, etc. I try not to write about it, but sometimes ya just gotta vent, ya know? It’s my life and it colors my blog. It’s not like I can have a heart to heart with my closest friend, Sherman, on how goofy I feel today. Life experience has taught me to hide my illness. I foolishly let the cat out of the bag on this blog and was trying not to reveal that aspect of my life. People will and do judge you even though they have the best of intentions.

As with anything in life, my writing ebbs and flows. I will get on great sprees of a very creative period and then my creativity will fall off as my illness effects me. I live for writing these days and love to capture the stories involving Sherman and the gang. I often find myself giddy with excitement to get home and write about a certain encounter with the group after visiting the shopping center. I think that is why most of the people come here to read. They want to be entertained and not saddened or concerned about my personal life. They say hindsight is 20/20 and I believe it. I should know better by know with having lived with this mental illness for years.

I promise to get back on a regular schedule of writing more carefully crafted tales and get away from all this personal garbage I have been laboring my readers with. I am also going to try to get back on my daily walk that brings me into contact with the gang to have something interesting to write about. I hope some of you are still reading and will join along as we take this blog to the next level of vigor. I have noticed my traffic has drastically fallen off these past few weeks. I fear I have effectively killed this blog for all intents and purposes.

Begging: just can’t do it…

I walked down to the grocery store to watch Big S practice the art of panhandling this morning with the intents on practicing said art. I was desperate for a few dollars in my pocket. I have almost exhausted my spare change.

There was a cool breeze on the air with bright shafts of sunshine lighting my way through the trees as I walked. Atypically cool for this time of the year in the South. You could almost feel fall encroaching upon the southern, humid Bermuda high that has persisted through most of this summer.

I went in to purchase my morning Gatorade and went back outside to sit with Big S. His first subject he solicited was an elderly black lady who was very nicely dressed. She looked like a sweet little old lady; like someone’s grandma.

“Watch this,” Big S said as he left me to sit as he walked up to her.

She looked surprised and accosted as Big S stood in front of her.

“Ma’am, you couldn’t spare a dollar for a hungry man, could you?” Big S asked towering ominously over her.

She meekly reached into her purse to pull out a dollar bill and gave it to him. It was a clear case of intimidation and made me feel uncomfortable just watching it.

“God bless you, ma’am,” Big S replied as he came over to sit back down next to me with a big grin on his face.

He snapped the crisp one dollar bill with his fingers and kissed it.

“Ah, money, there is nothing like it,” He said. “It is like taking candy from a baby.”

“Don’t you have any conscious about what you are doing?” I asked him. “That poor little lady was obviously intimidated by you.”

“Hey, I just ask for dollar,” Big S replied. “They can give or not give. It is their choice.”

I could no longer watch Big S continue with this process. It was revolting and to think I even entertained the idea. Am I that desperate for money? To stoop to the lowest dregs of society and damage what little pride I have left just for a few measly dollars? I would rather go hungry I then decided. My pride and my sense of well being were just far too important.

I live in a vastly rich country. A country in where a listless homeless man can sit and blog all day and still get something to eat and a place to sleep at night. Even the poorest of the poor here have far more than dreamt of by the poor of less wealthy countries. Yet, that wealth seems so intangible and unreachable to me. Will I have to go to work to support myself once again? The option seems far less damaging to my pride these days although I will have to subjugate myself to the whims of another employer at minimum wage which I find distasteful. It is just weeks like last week that scare me in that I may not be able to handle it. I was gripped in the throes of my illness last week and it was not a welcomed or pretty sight to behold. I awoke from last week a mess.

Another day, another dollar,” As Big S is fond of saying.

I guess it’s time I rejoined the workforce and started earning my keep and regaining my freedom as well. I will have to whore out my being to the capitalist behemoth that marches ever forward trampling over those that can’t or don’t wish to play by the rules. The only other option is becoming that despicable man of a panhandler like Big S.

Pleasantly Surprised…

I had quite a rebound today. I bounced back and enjoyed a long afternoon of smoking and reading. I think it is just all the medications I am taking. You should see what I have to take on a daily basis. I think my psychiatrist far too easily prescribes new drugs at just the slightest hint of a symptom. It is one of the more endearing aspects of her with regards to my father. Being a pharmacist, he is keen on the more medications, the better. I just don’t want to turn into a drooling zombie like my mother can be sometimes due to being over medicated. She takes Zyprexa for her schizophrenia and it is extremely sedating (along with dozens of other drugs).

It is midnight and I can hear the neighbor’s kids playing out in the backyard. It is music to my ears and makes me feel not so lonely tonight. They are quite an animated little bunch. I am craving human contact tonight for some reason. Maggie is lying on the floor at my feet occasionally looking up to me for a good backrub. I have all my windows open and there is a hint of fall in the air. It is downright nippy tonight with temperatures in the sixties. I will soon have to close all my windows.

My mother came by this evening with a care package of cokes, cigarettes, and dog food. It was much appreciated. I didn’t even ask her to do this. “I just worry about you,” She replied. “And thought you needed a little TLC. We haven’t seen you all week.”

I was very pleased to hear that the Judge ruled Bush’s warrant-less wiretapping to be unconstitutional today. It was one of the rare days that I actually watched and kept up with the news. They keep trying to spin as an issue revolving around terrorists and keeping tabs on them. Why don’t they just get a warrant and do it legally? Next we will have gulags to lock up socially deviant people and Muslims. Did we not learn anything from the Japanese internment camps from World War II? History has an uncanny knack of repeating itself, I fear. There is a lot this administration has done that I don’t agree with at all.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Hanging out with the Gang…

Well, I made myself get out of the house this afternoon and walked back down to the shopping center. I scrounged up some more change to buy my daily 30 cent can of soda. As I walked down the road, I saw my neighbor out working in his yard. Pipe may like to know that my neighbor is also a pipe smoker and a retired professor. I waved and let out a hearty, “Hello!” as I passed.

“Good afternoon, good sir!” He replied.

When I arrived at the shopping center, things were abuzz. George was parked out in the front talking to some pretty girl leaved over into the window. I bought my can of soda and went and sat down next to Big S.

“George ain’t got a chance if thinks he gonna get a piece of that action,” Big S said.

“Well, you know George has Pookie for his lovin’ needs,” I replied as we both laughed.

“Ain’t nothin’ like a crack whore to keep you warm on a cold night,” Droopy said as he stood next to us. We all laughed again.

I sometimes have a hard time understanding Droopy. He talks in this fast, stuttered staccato cadence. He also had the ever present sad look on his face. Big S was eyeing my drinking my cold, sweating soda.

“You got 30 more cents?” Big S asked. “Dat coke sure looks good.”

“Man, you are talking to probably the most broke man in the Valley,” I replied. “I had to go through the pockets of my dirty clothes to find this.”

George then turned off his car and got out to open the hood. He had to put another quart of oil in. George’s 1981 Dodge Diplomat guzzles the stuff.

“You need new piston rings badly,” I told him. “With as much oil as you put in that car you could have paid to have it done by now.”

George buys the generic looking store brand oil from the grocery store. The cheapest stuff they have.

About this time, Cap w/Tag Guy came sauntering by. He held out hand for me to shake it and nodded the black man’s version of hello. He headed on down towards the dollar store after our little exchange.

“Is he still selling crack?” I asked Big S speaking of Cap w/Tag Guy.

“The last time I heard him say he was retired,” Big S replied. “He said it was too much of a hassle.”

I burst out laughing. What a novel concept; to retire from selling crack.

Tired…

It’s been a rough week. I have slept until I could sleep no more. I think I shall go back to bed in a moment. I haven’t eaten in over a week. I would really like two barbeque sandwiches from Chuck’s barbeque. Alas, they don’t open for several more hours and I am completely out of money.

I have come to the conclusion that my father is a meddling twit of a man. He has started to play the “money game” with me once more. He is denying me access to my money out of “concerns” for me. I wish he would just leave me the hell alone and let me run my own life. He just needs to bugger off. It sucks being hungry with no access or money for food. Maggie is almost out of dog food as well; maybe one day’s worth left.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Got the Funks…

I am okay. Thanks to those of you that inquired. I have done nothing but sleep since Sunday occasionally letting Maggie out for the bathroom. “This too shall pass,” I keep telling myself. My goal of ninety A.A. meetings in ninety days has been shattered.

I awoke last night in the middle of the night to hear someone walking upstairs. It scared the shit out of me. There was also a strange car in the driveway. I crept upstairs and slowly opened the door leading to the stairs. It was my Great Aunt’s caretaker. I let out a huge sigh of relief. She had a doctor’s appointment and they had decided to come over here to stay.

“Don’t scare me like that,” I told her. “I thought someone had broken in.”

She apologized profusely.

Not much has gone on other than that. I struggle daily to not get drunk. I would like nothing more than to escape in blissful inebriation. I dream of beer. They say Alcoholics Anonymous will mess up your drinking and I believe it. All I can think about is having to pick up that first white chip again (A.A. gives you a white poker chip on your first day of sobriety). It keeps me sober.

Monday, August 14, 2006

A Conundrum of the Highest Sorts…

I was sound asleep. I kept dreaming I was hearing someone knocking at my backdoor. Actually, someone was knocking at my backdoor. I awakened abruptly as Maggie started to bark. It scared the shit out of me. My heart was racing furiously.

“Hush girl,” I said to quiet her as I got up and put on my robe and bedroom slippers.

I walked to the back door and turned on my porch light. I saw George leaning against the frame of the door. I opened it. He almost fell into the house.

“What in the hell is going on man,” I say. “It is three in the morning.”

“Something’s bad wrong with momma,” George says slurring his words. “She won’t answer the door.”

I let out a big sigh of frustration. I was sleeping so well. I didn’t need this shit tonight.

“Come on in man and sit down. You are drunk as hell,” I say as I open the door wide.

I get on the phone and call George’s mom. It rings maybe twenty times before I almost give up and then she answers.

“Mrs. Jones are you okay?”

“Sweetheart, I am fine,” She says. “What’s wrong?”

“Your son is over here drunk and said there was something wrong with you and you wouldn’t open the door.”

“I told him if he comes in one more night after midnight drunk then I am no longer going to let him in. He will just have to sleep it off in his car. I have to get some sleep.”

I get turned into an instant arbitrator. I sigh even more deeply.

“He can sleep it off over here,” I say. “You go on back to bed.”

“Honey, it ain’t my fault he showed up at your doorstep.”

“I know. You get back to sleep. He will be sobered up by morning.”

George’s mom is in her late seventies having to put up with this kind of crap. I felt sorry for her. Of course, the shit gets dumped onto me. I then walked outside with a flashlight to look George's car for any damage. I couldn’t find any. I walk back inside and George is passed out in my lazy boy recliner.

“Hey man,” I say as I shake him. “Wake up. Let’s go get you into a bed upstairs.”

George leans forward to stand and almost falls into the floor. I have to help him get up. I manage to get him up the stairs and into a bed. I turn on the central heating and air to cool things down. It is hot as hell upstairs.

“You owe me one man,” I say.

George is already passed out on top of the bed and probably won’t remember a thing in the morning.

Now, I can’t go back to sleep. I have tried several times to lie down and rest. I said to hell with it and got up and wrote this. I am going to talk to George’s mom tomorrow about getting him into a detox up in Birmingham. I will take him if he will go. That is going to be the hard part is just getting him to agree to it. If he doesn’t get a drink then his hands shake so bad he can’t even hold one of his cigars. It is really sad and makes me glad to be sober.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

A Smoke Before you go…

We all gather outside to smoke after tonight’s speaker meeting. A fellow I have never seen before comes up to me and asks me for a light and just begins to talk to me. It felt kind of awkward at first. I almost thought he was doing a version of his fifth step.

“You know, I used to live down in Key West,” He said.

“Oh really,” I replied. “My big run when I drove an eighteen wheeler was from Birmingham, Alabama down to Key West, Florida.”

“You know that long two lane bridge coming down from Miami?” He asks.

“Sure do,” I replied. “I drove over it many times. You think that bridge will never end.”

“Let me tell you a story about that bridge,” He began. “Me and a buddy were drinking and raising hell driving down that bridge one afternoon. The car in front of us slammed on their brakes and I swerved to miss them. I hit the guardrail and caused a pile up of cars. The shit hit the fan. Me and my buddy were both pretty messed up and hurt.”

“Hmmm…” I said as I smoked my cigarette and listened.

“We sat there for about an hour in pain until a tug boat came along pushing two barges up next to the bridge. The cars were backed up miles behind us. On one barge was a helicopter and on the other was a crane. That crane picked up all the wrecked cars and put them on the one barge to clear the road while the helicopter flew all us injured to the hospital.”

“I always wondered how they would handle an accident on that long bridge,” I replied intrigued at this point. “Did you two go to jail?”

“Sure did after we had been checked out at the hospital,” He said. “I was hung over as hell the next morning thinking how in the hell I am going to myself out of this mess. I finally got my then wife to come bail us out. Bless her soul. I liked to have never heard the end of that one from her.”

The story continued on until I had finished smoking my cigarette and had an excuse to take leave and go head for the ashtray. I thought the fellow was going to talk to me all night. I walked back over and shook his hand and asked him for his name and told him mine. We had skipped those pleasantries initially.

“Bob S.,” He said.

“Good to meet you Bob,” I replied. “Well, I am headed to the house.”

“Only in Alcoholics Anonymous would you meet such an interesting character and hear such an interesting tale,” I thought as I walked to my car and drove on home.

By the way, we had a wonderful motivational speaker tonight. He was this bigwig business man out of Houston, Texas in town for business. His story was fascinating and he was an eloquent and masterful story teller; much better than our usual fare. I left feeling inspired and motivated in my sobriety.

A New Day Dawns…

I stumble out of bed and put on my bedroom slippers and robe. First, I go turn off that damnable air conditioner and the racket it makes. Maggie is waiting at the back door to be let out for her morning run of the yard.

“Hold on girl. Let me go get my coffee started,” I tell her as I yawn and stretch.

I stand at the stove. I can’t see as I have yet to put my contacts in or glasses on. I always prepare my coffee the night before going to bed. I bend over to look closely at the dial on the stove and turn it to high. I am blind as a bat.

The bathroom then beckons.

“One more minute girl. I am coming,” I reply to Maggie as she impatiently wiggles at the back door; far too excited for this early in the morning. It is 6 AM. I must do my business first though. The last time I took a whiz in the backyard in the morning with Maggie a neighbor just happened to be on their early morning walk and saw me as they walked by the house. I caught them in my peripheral vision. You have never seen someone pull up their underwear so fast and close a robe. Yes, that was one of the more embarrassing moments in my recent life. What’s okay for dogs is not so acceptable for us humans; especially when a neighbor is walking by. I can only think of what they thought.

I can hear my coffee start to percolate loudly as I flush the toilet. I yawn and stretch once more.

“I promise I am coming. Let me pour me a cup,” I tell Maggie as I walk through the den.

I know I sound like the elderly Cat Lady at the A.A. meetings taking about or to her cats this morning.

Maggie is looking at me like, “Okay bozo, you better hurry up or I am going to give you a nice little present on this carpet.”

I walk to the back door with my coffee mug in hand and open it. Maggie goes tearing out the door and starts her morning ritual of mostly sniffing around and then at the last minute taking a wee. It as if she has to pick the perfect spot.

I sit outside in one of the wrought iron chairs and watch the sky grow ever brighter. The magical hour has begun and all the neighborhood birds are earnestly calling. I smile, glad to be alive another day. I made it a whole Saturday without drinking with sixty dollars in my wallet. One day at a time as they say. Sundays are a safe day as they don’t sell alcohol on the Lord’s Day due to the Bible belt laws. I would have to drive sixty miles for a beer and that ain’t gonna happen. That sixty dollars has got to last me until next Friday.

I leave the back door open so Maggie can decide when she is ready to come back inside. I awaken my sleeping computer, open Firefox, and check my blog for comments from last night.

“Holy shit!” I exclaim as I see the amount of comments on my last post.

I sit, read them all, and then begin to write this. One things for sure; everyone has a different opinion on religion and the topic is polarizing. It just reaffirms my belief that where you are born determines what religion you will follow. I broke one of my more ardent blog rules yesterday afternoon. Never write about religion or politics. You will just alienate your readers by doing so.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Confessions of a Closet Atheist

I never could grasp the concept of God. That vengeful, vindictive God of the Old Testament always disturbed me. I was also perplexed by many of the concepts of the New Testament. A man being resurrected after dieing for our sins always seemed like an implausible fairy tale to me. What happened to all the other people who came before Christ? Are they in Hell? “Nonsense,” I would say. The very concept that a loving, omniscient God would allow a hell was an aberration in my mind.

What about the other “books” of the bible that were decided by the early church to not be included? There are some, you know. The Gospels of St. Thomas come to mind. The Gospels of St. Thomas had Jesus contradicting himself from things he had said in the other Gospels such as Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John. This always made me think of the Bible as a manmade collected manuscript of tales; not of the Divine.

Also, my scientifically inclined mind would go into overtime over such concepts as a 6000 year old earth and all encompassing floods with no evidence. The very existence of our fossil record and carbon dating precludes a young earth theory that is so touted by creationists. “Hogwash!” I would decree; such fools to believe in such ridiculous things.

I was reading the chapter in the Big Book just moment ago titled “We Agnostics.” I realized that the God above as described didn’t apply to me. I could really, honestly choose a God of my understanding. I could still be a spiritual person without all that baggage of organized religion. It was if I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. A revelation occurred. A great sense of peace and understanding overcame me; a God of my understanding; what a novel concept. I guess that is why A.A. has worked for so many Agnostics and Atheists and is starting to work for me.

They say without this spiritual awakening that you will never get sober. I have come to firmly believe it now. I have struggled with drinking for most of my adult life. Drinking has taken so many things away from me; so many opportunities. I have spent most of my life trying to hide it unsuccessfully. I now find myself praying on an almost hourly basis; asking the God of my understanding for strength. If I can find God then the opportunities ahead of me seem almost limitless. There seems to now be a purpose to my life: to get sober and go out and help other alcoholics get and stay sober as well.

The Return of Dumpster Diving Dan!

The always jovial Dan returned on the scene this morning. I hadn’t seen him in days.

“Where have you been?” I asked excitedly glad to see him.

“I could ask you the same thing,” Dan said as he shook my hand vigorously.

“Been busy with meetings and such,” I replied.

“A.A.?” Dan asked.

“Yeah,” I replied. “How could you guess?”

“Oh, I have been through those hallowed halls before myself,” Dan said. “I know what ‘meetings’ means.”

I didn’t want to pry, but was curious as to what Dan had experienced.

“What happened to you?” I asked timidly hoping it wouldn’t offend Dan.

“Oh, it was ‘Nam,” He said. “When I came home from ‘Nam, I lived with my parents for a few years. All I did was drink and raise hell. I spent my time at bars at night, working menial jobs in the daytime for drinking money. My parents finally grew tired of my drunken binges and threw me out. I was almost homeless. I had to find a way to sober up, ease the pain of war, and to grow up for a change so I started going to A.A. I lived in Atlanta then.”

“I think we all have skeletons in our closet,” I replied.

“That we do, my friend,” He said.

“Why don’t you go now?” I then asked. “I have never seen you over at any of the meetings.”

“Well, when I finally came to terms with the war, I no longer had the desire to drink,” Dan replied. “I still drink a beer or two every now and then, but I no longer get drunk. I am too old for it. I got what I could out of A.A. and no longer felt the need to go.”

“Ah, I see,” I said.

“Well, let me hit those dumpster before the hog man gets to ‘em,” Dan said. “I am still fighting a war of sorts.”

“Good to see you fighting the good fight,” I replied as I smiled and then went to finish my daily walk.

_________________________________


My father’s new approach…

Well, it seems my father is taking a new approach with me and I think it shall be a good one. I called him this morning asking him about my every two week injection. He had told my psychiatrist that the Nurses down at Dr. Kamath’s office had grown afraid to give it to me; that I had been acting erratically. I still don’t believe that though. They always treated me so nicely. I never felt fear when I was around them.

The phone rang…

“Hello?” My father answered.

“Hey Dad, it’s me,” I replied.

“What do you want?” He asked with an air of meanness in his voice.

“You had said that Dr. Kamath’s nurses were growing afraid of me,” I replied. “I wanted to know if you thought they would still give me my injection every two weeks.”

“Yeah, but you are going to have to take care of it yourself. We are not taking care of you any longer.”

“That’s fine,” I replied. “I think I need to take care of it.”

He hung up the phone.

For the past two years ever since my homelessness, my parents have coddled me and taken care of everything in my life. I think Annabel was right when she got on her soapbox and told me to “suck it up and be a man.” I need to start taking responsibility and taking care of these details for myself. It certainly will help my self esteem and sense of well being knowing that I am acting as an independent adult for a change.

As far as my father is concerned and the meanness I felt in his voice, I hung up the phone and walked back downstairs to write this. I sat in front of my computer, bowed my head and said, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” I felt better immediately.

Nightly Routines

I have a nightly routine that brings joy to my soul. Usually around 6 PM, I start to make my way to my nightly 7 PM AA meeting. This entails a long drive out into the country to view the anvils of thunderheads that have formed on the horizon which have been many these past few weeks. I then make my way out county road 209 which brings me full circle back into town. I stop by the shopping center and buy my 30 cent can of soda. I am trying to limit myself to one a day. It is a sweet carbonated treat I relish.

Tonight’s meeting went okay. Friday nights we have this one very elderly lady who usually spends twenty minutes or more talking or should I say rambling about the twenty odd something cats she owns. I think this aggravates some of the other members, but I find her kind and endearing. She is originally from Chicago and has a strong mid-west accent; something you don’t hear very often in the South.

After my meeting, I come home and fix supper. Tonight, I was lazy and cooked two chicken pot pies in the oven and doctored them up with a little butter, a dash of salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Dinner was ready around 9 PM. About this time, I turn on my air conditioner after a hot day and let my little apartment get icy cold for sleeping.

After dinner, I take my nightly meds and usually browse all my favorite blogs. The best time to read is at night after everyone has updated during the day. I was amused to see “The Homeless Guy” trying to sell a voided and used food stamp card on EBAY tonight. That has to be one of his most hair brained ideas yet. The auction is just at over $7; furious bidding I tell you. He wrote, “One day I'll be even more famous than I am now, and this card will be worth a lot. For those who do not know, I am the author of the blog, "The Homeless Guy". Invest in the future and bid on this item.” “How arrogant,” I thought bemused.

Usually around 11 PM, I head for the bed after the rooms have grown cold which takes about two hours. I pour me a glass of ice water, bring my cigarettes and ash tray to the side of the bed, and crawl in. I listen to The Big 870 out of New Orleans for a few hours. Even though New Orleans is hundreds of miles away, I pick it up perfectly every night with my cheap little twenty year old alarm clock. At 1 AM, Coast to Coast AM comes on and I try to stay up and listen to the first hour. Their discussions of the paranormal, aliens, etc. amuse me. Somewhere during this time, I fall asleep and usually dream the most vivid dreams during the night.

I wake up in the morning and it all begins anew. And this has to be my most boring post evar! I promise to get back to my normal writing stories routine soon. I just haven’t seen much of the gang these past few days. I have been terribly busy with meetings and such.

Friday, August 11, 2006

I Am Okay

I have just been really busy the past few days with Alcoholics Anonymous. I have been going to as many meetings as I can get to. I have read the Big Book for hours and have tried my best to find a “higher power” or in other words “a God of my understanding.” It does help. I have even tried praying for a change and doing daily devotionals revolving around the twelve steps.

I have also been struggling with quitting cigarettes, but just couldn’t do it tonight. I managed to make it twenty four hours and have just gone down to Fat Albert’s and bought some. I had some nicorette gum, but was afraid to use it as it had expired in 6/2005. I went a year one time without drinking or smoking and I was hoping by quitting cigarettes I could recapture that most healthy time in my life. I was even jogging every night. An old timer at AA told me not to try to quit too much at once after our meeting this meeting. He said I was setting myself up for failure. He is probably right.

As far as Dad is concerned, he has just been acting very distant and cold to me. I don’t think he is going to do anything any longer. We have gone back to our routine of him giving me $85 dollars every week for groceries, cigs, etc.

All of this just puts a lot of stress upon me and I get out of my usual routines. It affects my writing and demeanor as well. I don’t want this to turn into some “drama” blog though that constantly keeps my readers worrying about me. I am okay; just under a lot of anxiety at the moment. There is no need to worry I assure you. I am doing okay and am sober taking it one day at a time.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Overcoming Desire

I was overcome with a great thirst this morning that almost couldn’t be quenched. I managed to scrape up enough change for a Gatorade. I drove down to Fat Albert’s this morning to get it. The place was bustling with activity. Carolyn was just getting off of work.

“This place is crazy,” I said.

“Tell me about it,” She replied. “Donna wanted me to work over into first shift and I told her hell no. They don’t pay me enough.”

I had to wait a long time to purchase my Gatorade. I got stuck behind one of the lottery addicts.

“Give me two number fives and three thirteen’s,” They said relating to those scratch off tickets. They then stood at the counter to scratch them off as if salivating like one of Pavlov’s dogs.

“Excuse me,” I said. “But I want to make a purchase.”

The lady got all mad with me and acted as if I had just asked her to take off all her clothes. Believe me, that wouldn’t have been a pretty sight.

“Fuckin’ idiot,” I muttered under my breath.

I and Carolyn then walked outside and sat in her car.

“Come over and crawl into the bed with me,” She said. “I really don’t want to be alone.”

“I will just keep you up,” I replied. “I slept well last night.”

“We don’t have to necessarily sleep,” She replied smiling full of innuendo.

“Maybe some other time,” I replied.

I can’t believe I passed up sex, but just wasn’t in the mood for it this morning. I gave Carolyn a hug as if it were to be my last and she drove home to go eat breakfast and then crawl into the bed after a hard night’s work.

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

A Rough Night for Ferret…

I spoke to Ferret for a brief time today. He had talked to Sherman and Sherman told him of all the beer we had drank last night. Ferret wanted the empty cans.

“I got soaked last night. Just fuckin’ soaked,” He replied. “My tent leaked.”

I walked into the house and got him some seam sealer for his tent. I had a tube to spare.

“That was one hell of a storm and it blew up outta nowhere,” I said. “My great grandfather would always say that if it rained at night in July or August in the South then it was going to be one hell of a rain.”

“I just hope my sleeping bag doesn’t mildew,” Ferret said. “I did manage to get all my clothes into a trash bag though so they are dry.”

“Are you headed down to the shopping center?” I asked after Ferret had gathered all the cans.

“Yeah, I am headed that way,” Ferret replied. “I am going to check the dumpsters behind it. Good thing Dan doesn’t like cans.”

“Hold on and I will walk with you,” I said.

I and Ferret headed on down to the shopping center. Ferret immediately went and crawled into one of the big dumpsters to poke around for cans. I walked on around front to see what Big S was up. I sat down next to him.

“Hot as hell today,” Big S said as he wiped his brow. “Sherman told me about your father trying to gain power of attorney over you.”

“Yeah, that is some fucked up shit,” I replied. “He thinks I need help taking care of myself.”

Droopy then came walking up with that eternal sad look on his face.

“Cigarette?” Droopy asked.

I pulled the pack out of shirt pocket and gave him one.

“Why do none of you fuckers ever have any cigarettes?” I asked perplexed. “You all smoke.”

“I don’t need to buy cigarettes when I got you to bum them off of,” Big S said as he laughed.

“Fuckin’ moochin’ bastard,” I replied as I smiled.

Big S and Droopy then got into this long conversation about the storm last night.

“I ain’t never seen it thunder and lightening like that,” Big S said.

“Me neither,” Droopy replied. “I had lightening strike so close to the house that I thought it had gotten hit.”

They kept on talking about the storm and I walked on home. My social requirements for the day had been fulfilled.

Thunder, the music to my soul…

We had one hell of a storm last night. It thundered for what seemed like hours. “Music to my soul,” I thought as I stood at the refrigerator and drank milk straight from the carton. I have always enjoyed doing that ever since I was an adult. Mom would always scold me for doing it as a child. “You’ll make the milk go sour,” She would say as if milk was some golden substance to be cherished. “Hogwash,” I always thought. I can go buy another.

I thought of Ferret and how he fared through last night’s storm; sitting in his cheap Wal-Mart tent. It was a definite gulley washer. Not your usual storm, but a downright maelstrom. It was violent.

George came by during the middle of that storm. For him, the weather is just a mere inconvenience. We could have a major hurricane blow through and George would be out driving in it like a retard.

“Damn, God decided to piss on us tonight,” George said as he stepped through my door.

I couldn’t help but laugh; another Georgeism.

“What do you need man?” I asked.

“Hell, I decided to check on you,” George replied. “I know you are going through hell right now.”

George reeked of stale and foul smelling beer breath.

“For god’s sake,” I replied. “Sober up man. You are going to get yourself killed.”

“I ain’t never been struck by lightening,” George said with a confused look on his face.

“I meant the drinking and driving you dumbass,” I replied and we both burst out laughing. It was contagious.

George had brought my favorite beer Heineken; two six packs.

“These are for you and these are for me,” He said pointed to the case of Milwaukee’s Best Ice he was carrying as well after running back out to his car to get it.

We both sat and gotten completely sloshed as the storm raged outside. It was an enjoyable evening. I had a gulley washer going on outside and one in my gullet as well. It was late enough in the evening that I knew no relatives would come by so felt safe in getting drunk. The last thing I remembered was waking up at 3 AM. The storm had passed and George was gone. The first thing I did this morning was to crack open another beer; nothing like a Heineken first thing in the morning.

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

Out of the Dark…

Sorry about that last post. I don’t mean to cause concern. When you get in the funks like I have been experiencing, life seems so pointless with no direction. Things get to seem pretty grim. I have literally slept for a week.

I just walked down to the shopping center to buy my daily Gatorade and to get out of the house. I managed to scrounge up a dollar and some change. Big S was sitting out front as usual in the heat accompanied by Droopy.

“Where in the hell have you been lately?” Big S asked me.

“In the bed,” I reply.

“You slept all fucking week?” Big S asked.

“Yeah, I wasn’t feeling well,” I replied.

I sat down next to Big S to drink my Gatorade.

“Got a cigarette?” Big S asked.

I pulled my pack out from my shirt pocket and gave him one. Droopy was standing up against the wall next to the bench and greedily eyed our little exchange. I was expecting him to ask for one as well, but he never did.

“George’s been asking about you,” Big S said. “We all got worried as we see you about once a day down here. Cap w/Tag Guy even spoke to ask about you.”


“Yeah, I kept expecting George to show up at the house any day now. You know how nosey he can be,” I replied.

“Cap w/Tag Guy actually spoke?” I then asked incredulously as I smiled as I took another drag off of my cigarette.

“I kept expecting the second coming of Christ after that one,” Big S said as he smiled back. “Dat nigga don’t ever speak.”

I and Big S finished smoking our cigarettes. The Gatorade tasted absolutely delicious and refreshing as well. I then bid the fellas farewell and walked on home. It was nice to get out of the house for a change.

A Good Drink for the Two of Us…

George came over this morning bearing a case of Milwaukee’s Best Ice. I gave in this morning and drank three. To be honest, that swill is the most awful tasting beer. George drinks it because it is cheap and has a very, very high alcohol content. A case costs $11.99 down at Fat Albert’s and is even cheaper at Wal-Mart. Twelve will get you shit faced. The alcohol content is 6 % per beer; twice that of normal beer.

“You know dad is trying to get power of attorney over me,” I told George. “He hired a very expensive lawyer.”

“That son of a bitch doesn’t play around, does he?” George said. “He just don’t give up.”

“He thinks I am a danger to myself and says the police keep calling about me,” I replied.

“Let me tell you something,” George said. “The police don’t call about you. They come and get you.”

“Yeah, I know,” I replied. “It is just bullshit.”

“What are you going to do?” George asked.

“I am going to relinquish control back over to dad and give in,” I replied. “I am tired of fighting. I guess I am going away.”

“Go away man. Leave,” George replied. “Pack your car up and drive off. They can’t lock you up if they can’t find you.”

“I have nowhere to go,” I replied sadly. “It is best that I just quit fighting.”

“I never thought I would tell you this, but you should just go back to being homeless,” George said. “At least then, you will be free.”

“They would just find me and come and get me,” I replied.

Maggie ran up and down my back yard so joyous to be out of the house. It made me smile to watch her; one of life’s small little joys.

“George, do I act crazy?” I asked.

“I think you have just been labeled as crazy and now it has stuck,” George replied.

“Well, I do have problems with the ghosting and shit, but I am not running out in the streets babbling incoherently,” I said.

“I wish I knew what to tell you,” George replied. “I would do what I could to help you.”

“I know you would man,” I said. “You are a good friend and I would do the same for you.”

George went and threw his empty beer can away and I managed to get Maggie back inside. It was no small feat as she was having so much fun.

“Let’s just get rip roarin’ drunk,” George said. “You never drink these days.”

“I would just be adding fuel to the fire,” I replied. “It would just be another reason that I am a danger to myself. With my luck, every family member I know would come right over to find out.”

George told me goodbye and drove off. He had to get busy making some money. He just drank up a good day’s work. I worry about him drinking and driving like that. He is far more a danger to himself and others than I. Eventually, it will catch up with him.

I was thinking this morning as we sat and drank how George has a choice with his freedom and gambles with it constantly. One accident; one fender bender; and he would lose his freedom. I have no choice. Someone is purposely trying to take mine away.