“Where have you been?” I asked Ferret at lunchtime today.
The shopping center was bustling with activity this morning being a Saturday and a beautiful day. I even caught a glimpse of George as he pulled out of the parking lot. I hate I missed him.
“Monte let me move back in on the condition that I sober up,” he replied, looking like a new man.
“God, you gave me a scare there for awhile,” I said. “Me and you sure know how to tie one on.”
“I got another job,” Ferret then said, proudly.
“Where?” I asked.
“Kentucky Fried Chicken,” Ferret responded. “And don’t give me a hard time about it. George has been making fun of me about it. He is calling me the ‘chicken man.’”
I had to stifle back a smile and a laugh. George can be so unruly sometimes. I knew that smile and laugh wouldn’t go over well with Ferret though.
“Hey, I would work at KFC if my father would let me,” I said trying to make Ferret feel better. “My father won’t let me work. And it’s not like George has a real job anyway.”
Ferret did look good and I was glad to find him doing better and sober. When I found his campsite deserted yesterday I thought the worst had happened and that it was an ill omen. I was glad those were baseless fears.
Ferret left me to go do some shopping when Dexter came walking up wanting to borrow a few bucks. I see Dexter everywhere around town, but rarely write about him (which I am going to change). He is slightly mentally retarded and draws social security. His claim to fame was that he got arrested for stealing the cooked pork chops out of someone’s kitchen awhile back. Dexter was just hungry and didn’t mean any harm. The judge dismissed the charges when he realized Dexter was retarded.
“You ain’t got five bucks?” he said in his stuttering and staccato voice.
I reached into my wallet and handed him a five dollar bill. Dexter doesn’t drink and will only spend money given to him on junk food and sodas.
“I’ve been giving Dan a run for his money,” Dexter said proudly of Dumpster Diving Dan as he grabbed the five dollars from my hand.
“You started dumpster diving?” I asked.
“Not food, but I like finding stuff to sell,” he said.
I have seen Dexter checking the dumpsters an awful lot lately so what he said was true.
“I found a pretty decent bike the other day, but my aunt won’t let me ride it,” he said. “She says I will hurt myself.”
You have to keep in mind that Dexter is very akin to a grown child with the same mindset.
“I sold it to some kid down the street for five dollars,” he then said. “That kid sho was glad to get it.”
“I bet he was,” I replied.
“Well, I am going to go get something to eat and a soda,” he said.
“I’ll see ya later, Dexter,” I replied as I patted him on the shoulder and then he walked off to visit the convenience store.
It was good getting to see Dexter and Ferret today. Dexter has his faults, but he is such a simple and kind soul. I feel a certain fondness for him and his mental disability. I know I sometimes bitch and moan about my schizophrenia and the limits it has placed upon my life, but at least I am not simple and retarded like Dexter. Bless his soul. I am afforded an intelligence that God didn’t see fit in giving him.
I then walked on around to the back of the shopping center to find Dan digging around in the dumpster behind the dollar store.
“Damn broken bottle of shampoo,” I heard him mutter tersely as I walked up.
“Hey Dan,” I said.
“Shit!” Dan said, clasping his chest. “I didn’t hear you walk up. You scared the hell out of me.”
“Sorry about that,” I replied. “You finding anything interesting today?”
“Go look in my truck in the bed,” he said.
I walked over to Dan’s truck to find a small broken entertainment center in the bed. It was worse for wear.
“Gonna fix it up and put my TV on it,” Dan said as he walked over.
Dan is the epitome of the old saying that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. What one person would throw away as trash, Dan covets as a special find.
“Here,” Dan then said pulling out his wallet. “Let me start paying you for that Chef Boyardee I get from you every week.”
“Oh, don’t worry about that,” I replied.
“I insist,” Dan said. “Here is five dollars. You will be doing me a favor by selling it so cheap.”
I sheepishly grabbed the five dollars and put it in my wallet. That paid for the five dollars I let Dexter borrow that would never get paid back. It just made me like Dan all the more.
“I’ve got one more thing to give you,” Dan then said opening the driver’s side door of his Toyota Tacoma pickup.
Dan pulled out some dirty old stuffed toys in a bag and handed them to me.
“Scrap doesn’t like toys, but I know your Maggie loves ‘em,” he said.
“Thank you Dan. She will appreciate it. The dirtier, the better as far as Maggie is concerned.”
I shook Dan’s hand and walked the short distance up by the newspaper office to home. It was so good getting to see so many of the gang today. As I had written earlier, things are starting to pick up now that the weather is warm and absolutely gorgeous. The gang is back out after a long and deserted winter. This will give me lots to write about and I hope you all enjoy hearing about the daily trials and tribulations of George and the gang.