It is lunchtime Saturday at the shopping center. The regulars are all abuzz about the grocery store having a new manager. My old boss, Jay, has gotten a promotion to regional manager. He always was a great guy who worked his ass off.
"Here come's the money," Big S tells me with a feverish grin.
"Ah, you think you can start back panhandling," I reply.
"At least for a little while," Big S says.
Ferret soon comes sauntering up with Dexter. Ferret doesn't have to panhandle. With no bills, his disability allotment keeps him in drink. And panhandling is always about addiction and not true need. Big S panhandles to help pay for his expensive premium cigarette habit.
"Damn," Ferret tells me. "It was cold as shit this morning."
"Maybe that will sober you up and you will find a home," I reply.
Ferret just laughs back at me nervously. Ferret is not interested in finding a home.
Dexter looks lost today. I worry about him hanging around Ferret. He is so impressionable.
"Dexter, I see you are wearing your Christmas sweatshirt," I say, trying to make small talk.
Dexter pulls his shirt out to show me and smiles. Dexter is perpetually broke and always digging through the dumpsters around town. The rumor is he eats from the dumpster behind the Korean restaurant.
I finally sit back on my bench and light up a cigarette. I grow so lonesome some days and the company of the gang is a Godsend. Everything is well in the life of my unorthodox friends and that makes me happy. I look at my watch and the day is still young. Much can happen while I am gone and walking home. I finally leave my friends doing what they normally do. Just another day in J-ville and it feels good.