"Are you heading to bed?" Clara asked me early this morning as we sat in the park by the abandoned cotton mill.
"No," I replied. "I am just going to walk until I get sleepy."
"I'm coming with you."
I wanted to be left alone. By sheer coincidence, Clara ended up in the park with me. She had been drinking beer all night and was avoiding the police. My little place of solitude felt desecrated -- an interloper in our midst. I come here to think and gather my thoughts. To be alone. Not to sojourn with homeless drunks. I felt guilty for almost writing that, but it's the truth. Blunt honesty is always a weapon I wield when I am not feeling well.
"Can I come home with you?" Clara then asked with a whine in her voice. Her inhibitions dashed by a dozen or more beers.
"You know my girlfriend would never approve," I responded.
"She will never know... "
"Yes, she will," I replied. "Nothing escapes her."
I walked on down to the rail yard with Clara in tow. I sat on the bench by the old Chattahoochee Valley Railway caboose on display. Clara sat next to me. I noticed she had on short sleeves and it was very chilly this morning. She needed a jacket.
"Aren't you cold?" I asked her.
"Yeah, in a way," she said, "but the beer helps me stay warm."
"You are going to get sick."
We both grew very quiet as I sat and watched Clara take drink after drink of tepid beer from her backpack. I had a warm flannel shirt on and took off my fleece pull-over and gave it to Clara. Clara scrambled to put it on. Thanking me.
"I feel interesting," I finally told her as we sat. Hoping it would scare her off.
"What do you mean?"
"Mentally interesting," I replied, tapping my index finger to my temple.
I felt as if I was a third person, out of my body, watching everything unfold. As if I was having a near death experience and I was floating above at the ceiling, watching, as they tried to revive me. Schizophrenia can be so disconcerting at times.
"You're freaking me out," Clara said, slurring her words, but not daunted enough to miss another drink of beer.
"Oh, I am not interesting in a violent kind of way," I replied as I backpedaled. "I am just having trouble organizing my thoughts -- discerning reality from fantasy."
I then went on to tell Clara how alcohol helps me during these times. She handed me a quart of Colt 45 and I drank it with gusto. Soon, feeling quite swimmy headed. I know I shouldn't be self medicating with beer at 5 a.m. in the morning. I just needed to escape -- to feel some solace. I needed the calming effects of that alcohol.
Me and Clara finally parted ways as she walked back to the shopping center to go sleep off her drunk in her little nesting spot on that loading dock behind the dollar store. I ran across the highway and purchased two bacon, egg, and cheese biscuits when Merl's Diner opened for breakfast at 6 a.m. Followed by purchasing two more quarts of malt liquor at the convenience store next to Merl's. I sat drinking my malt liquor and eating my biscuits as the first light of daylight began to show.
I so wish I could sleep. I was hoping the beer would calm my mind and make me crawl into the bed to sleep until this afternoon. No joy. I was haunted by thoughts of Clara curled up in her sleeping bag on that loading dock. Alone, with no one who cared. I wondered if I was eventually going to end that way like I once was when I was homeless. I realized I should have brought her home to let her sleep off the drinking on my couch. Rosa would just have to get over it. Clara was long gong by then, though. My mind having changed.
Finally made it home as the sun was rising following Venus high into the sky. Soon, clouds rolled in from the Gulf of Mexico obscuring the sun and creating a depressive ambiance to the sky and out-of-doors. It would be a perfect dreary day to just sleep until I could sleep no more. So glad I have a journal I can come and write in to share what I am experiencing. Some of you mean the world to me and your comforting comments making journaling all the worthwhile.