"She's crazy drunk," Ferret told me of Clara, the homeless woman, this morning. "You think I am crazy then you need to take another look at her."
Clara was sloppy this morning, looking disheveled. According to Big S she had sat up all night drinking wine and singing old songs drunkenly from memory
"It's pitiful," Big S told me and that is a lot coming from a guy who spends his days sitting down at a shopping center panhandling.
"She's gonna get arrested," I said, realizing her path to the dark side is almost complete.
We all watched as Clara accosted a shopper within earshot with drunken brazenness.
"My car is out of gas," she said, slurring her words and briskly following. "Can you spare a few dollars?"
The patron's step quickened as they escaped Clara's grasp. They ignored her.
"Fucker!" Clara hollered out in desperation, thwarted.
"Get a job and quit this stupid shit!" the young female patron hollered back, frustrated, as she glided into her safe car to drive away.
Ferret was drinking as well -- a forty ounce of beer in a brown paper bag chasing away last night's hang over.
"You don't get sloppy drunk like her," I told Ferret of his drinking.
"If I go to jail then it means I can't drink or smoke. Jail is for idiots," Ferret replied. "I pace myself."
I admired his honesty. He could have told me some bullshit about not being an alcoholic.
Loneliness overcame Clara and she sat down on the concrete beside us. Me, Big S, and Ferret were sitting on a bench next to the grocery store smoking and drinking coffee from the diner. We warily kept an eye on her as she sat talking to herself caught in the throes of drunken madness.
"I don't ask for much," she said to herself. "All I want is a few dollars."
She was mad at the way that young woman handled her. Her frustration could be heard in her voice.
"You need to go sleep it off," Ferret then said, surprising us. "You are going to ruin all our time down here when the police show up and they run everybody off."
"Fuck you, you damn nigger-ass motherfucker!" Clara said as she stood up and walked off huffily.
Me and Big S had to grab Ferret and keep him from getting up. He was fiery mad at her words.
"She's just drunk, man," I said. "She won't even remember saying it tomorrow."
"Don't let that stupid bitch get to you," Big S told Ferret, echoing me.
I ride down to the shopping center to get up material to write for my blog. I got more than I bargained for this morning. The drama was thick and palpable. It made me uncomfortable. It also reminds me why I try to stay away from drinking these days. It reminds me that I am one bad decision away from being in Clara's shoes. There is a tenuous line I walk everyday between drunken homelessness and homed bliss -- a line I no longer want to cross.