Clara is not an ugly woman. With some makeup and nice clothes she could look really presentable. She is in her late thirties and still has perky breasts and a shapely bum. "I couldn't have kids," she told me one day. "That's why no man wants me." I stifled back a remark about how she lives her life is why a man wouldn't want her, but who am I to judge?
She had gathered herself today and was doing better. "You hungry?" I asked her, wanting to buy her a meal. She flashed a wad of what looked like five dollar bills as she grinned furiously. "Been panhandling over by restaurant row," she replied. I sat with Ferret as we talked about our postponed camping trip -- our homeless homecoming.
"You know what I hate?" Clara said interrupting Ferret and me. "I hate when you ask for a few bucks and they give you their to-go box from the restaurant."
Ferret laughed. I chuckled.
"Do I look that homeless?" Clara asked.
Ferret didn't say a word because he always looks homeless. It would be akin to the pot calling the kettle black. Ferret hasn't had a shower in weeks.
"The torn t-shirts don't help," I replied, trying to be nice. "And you could comb your hair. It would make you look less homeless."
Ferret and me watched as Clara disappeared into the dollar store to buy a brush and a new t-shirt.
"What do you take for your schiz?" Ferret asked while Clara was away.
"A Risperdal Consta shot in the ass."
"That's what she needs," Ferret said. "She needs a healthy shot of something in the ass to calm her down and bring her to her senses."
I chuckled once again at Ferret's blunt words. Clara came walking back out brushing her tangled hair. She had put her new t-shirt on in the bathroom of the dollar store
"How do I look?" she asked. "Better?"
"You look much better," I replied, kindly.
She grinned and put her brush in her backpack and then threw her old and torn t-shirt into the trash can next to us. I watched as she trudged across the parking lot headed back to all the restaurants in the shopping center a half a mile from here.
"She's going to work," Ferret said as he laughed.
"Yeap," I said musingly as I smoked my cigarillo. "She probably makes more money than I do writing. Women panhandlers have it easy."
Lunchtime called and I also wanted to get back home to check on Rosa. I told Ferret good day and rode my bike home after assuring him we were going to have our "homeless homecoming" another day.