I used to would spend my summer days down at the shopping center, home of the Piggly Wiggly. There was George waiting upon patrons for his fly-by-night taxi service – that old jalopy of a car of his was always illegally parked in the fire lane. George would ask me to buy him one beer which I always thought as odd. Shouldn't an alcoholic want multiples like six or twenty-four? Little did I know at the time that George always kept a large bottle of cheap wino wine under his car seat. The beer was just a treat. We would grow to be good enough friends that he would begin to share that terrible swill with me over time. I much preferred those little ice-cold green bottles of Heineken myself.
Then there was Big S or Slop as he was known down there. Every day, like an omnipresent sun, he would sit on a bench begging for spare change. He didn't drink or do anything dastardly. He just liked sodas and loved to eat. He abhorred work. He would tell everyone his meth addicted sister and her five kids took all his disability money. I rarely believed him unless I had a few beers in the old gullet and was feeling gullible. Big S was known to lie or embellish his tales quite often. And boy was he a terrible gossip. Slop and George were the information grapevine of the gang. Nothing missed their astute ears and attention.
Ferret and I would become fast friends last summer. He was homeless - sleeping in a tent down by the river. I would gladly walk down every morning to drink a beer and share breakfast from Sarah Jay's. We had some good times on that broad riverbank. I almost envied Ferret of his homelessness. I found keeping a home and the resulting responsibilities to be much harder than just being a homeless man. I was also so naïve at the time. Ferret so desperately wanted a home and would have traded places with me any day.
I have been looking back over the past few summers this morning and realized how transient my life can be over time. I am bounced around from one place to the next like some red headed stepchild. I am hoping that my current abode is a place where I can put down roots - a place to house me and Maggie for a long time. Abbagirl's mention of the gang this morning got me to thinking about them and the times we spent together – lazy summer days without a care in the world other than when I would have my next smoke or buy my next beer. Much has happened in a year.