Word travels fast within the gang as I have often said. They are some of the most gossiping folks I know -- always meddling in each other's lives. Big S told me this afternoon that Ferret was in a bad way and not leaving his campsite. He has been paying Dexter to buy him beer at the convenience store and then bring it to him. I decided to get a to-go box of dinner at Sarah Jay's eatery and take it to him -- worried he was going to get malnourished.
The walk to Ferret's campsite is a pleasant experience. Across the tracks and beyond the depot, a tangle of woods skirts the river. A maze of trails intersperse these woods leading to different fishing holes used commonly by elder black men. Ferret's camp is where Moore's creek intersects the river and he has been known to fish for supper some days. I found Ferret sitting next to a dormant campfire drinking an ice beer. I startled him as I walked up.
"What's going on, man?" I asked shaking his hand.
"Not much, dawg,"
"Big S says you're having a hard time."
"I'm having the time of my life," Ferret replied as he laughed drunkenly and finished off a can of beer.
I handed Ferret the to-go box of dinner and he opened it to look at the contents.
"Thanks," he said of the burger and fries I had brought. "You want a beer?"
"I can't drink these days."
"Why?" Ferret asked.
"I've developed an allergy to alcohol."
I almost felt like I was lying, but I am allergic to alcohol in a certain sense.
"That's a shame," Ferret said eating the burger as he cracked open another beer.
We sat for awhile as I listened to Ferret talk. His mental illness was really manifesting itself in his outlook on life. Paranoia. Suspicion. Imagined drama. All things I have experienced when drinking and not taking my medications just like him. I long ago realized after all I've done for Ferret over the years that I couldn't change him. I could make his life easier, though, with food and the occasional pack of cigarettes. Most people can't understand why someone would want to live this way. I can. I did. And I sometimes want to go back.
"I'll bring you some supper tomorrow as well," I finally told Ferret as I got up off the ground to leave.
Ferret thanked me and I had a solemn walk back to my car to drive home. Ferret is living almost exactly like I did when I was homeless. It's uncanny, the resemblance. I won't lie and say I don't think about joining him some days. If I was still drinking, I probably would. Thank god for my sobriety and the medications that temper these urges. I don't want to go back to that pitiful existence that my sick and twisted mind can think of as a grand experience.