I enjoy the people I come across. They're poor, some homeless, exfelons and shit. But, fuck it. I'm not here as a rehab for them, I'm just here to listen and provide good conversation, maybe cigarettes or beer. People like that, they deserve that much. I know what it's like to walk around feeling hopeless, but nothing to the extent of how they feel. You can't fix people like that, but you can make their days a little more worth while, ya know?
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
I sit in that rattling van - the hobo express - and morosely stare out the great, dusty window as the orange sun slips behind the Juarez mountains. The van is packed with smelly and tattered homeless men, the tight air stale with their funk.
We are deposited at the brand new El Paso Rescue Mission. The weary dart into the building, but I stay outside in the biting cold and light a cigarette, gazing out across the twinkling, yellow lights of Juarez City across the silent, black Rio Grande. The faint pop-pop of gunfire on Christmas eve.
I sigh. I have spent December in El Paso. I realized after my third day that I had made a dire mistake in coming back. A mistake quickly amended. I have set my sights at the beginning of 2014 to make my way to Calexico and will dig that scene before heading on to Tijuana.
As 2014 rapidly approaches and you snuggle securely into your comfortable middle class ever darkening future shrouded by quiet acceptance of conquest and murder in the name of progress, let us take a moment to remember the Lost Angels who inherit this continent, the other people, the people in motion, of various races and ethnicity, speaking many tongues, migrating from one place to another as seasonal laborers, wandering around as hobos and hitchhikers, meeting each other in brief yet somehow lasting encounters.
These are the wild, alive, mad, undesirable, crazy individuals who soar like flaming comets across starry nights, who chuckle a hearty fuck you to your soul sucking society of petty, fruitless acceptance from bitter, overly judgmental constituents. They exist in stark contrast to your 'I am an individual yet I must be like everyone else' status quo. I have joined their ranks and will never turn my back on them. I have reached that point of no return and I've never felt more alive.
Wednesday, December 04, 2013
I awoke from The Sickness at the age of forty-five, calm and sane, and in reasonably good health except for a weakened liver and the look of borrowed flesh common to all who survive The Sickness. . . . Most survivors do not remember the delirium in detail. I apparently took detailed notes on sickness and delirium. I have no precise memory of writing the notes which have now been...
Tuesday, December 03, 2013
The Underwood gleamed up at me in contempt. I thought trying to write on an old fashioned typewriter would connect me more intimately with the language. So far my muse had remained elusive. I could hear the soft noir soundtrack drift across the parking lot entering my room through the open window. My Technicolor world transformed instantly to the grainy black and white world of Manhattan 1943. The bare bulb in the overhead lamp swung slightly from an unexpected breeze. Words…where were my damn words?
Unfortunately, it takes more than a cheap suit, bourbon and a stale cigar to create inspiration. I do like the black and white theme. The world seems both comforting and sinister as if at any moment men armed with Tommy guns would emerge from the bank across the street disturbing the genteel urban peace of another day. Prohibition may have been a decade in the past, but the deadly wise guys tearing up our fair city were still around. I need a story damn it. What good is a hard drinking PI without a story?
Then came the soft wrapping of youthful knuckles on the door and a slim figure silhouetted in the frosted glass; my heart was suddenly hopeful.
“Enter,” I snarled
The door swung open. The kid was pure street hustler and trouble wrapped tightly in a look of desperation and sexual tension that beamed from doe-like eyes. My muse had arrived.
Sunday, December 01, 2013
The bedsheets moved and then slid aside to reveal a mess of tousled, obsidian hair and, sliding further down, a pale naked arm. The owner of the arm made a sleepy grunt and pulled the sheet back over himself. After a moment he rolled over to his stomach, slowly propped himself on both elbows, hair falling all over his face, and looked around.
He was alone in bed. Near the window, illuminated by pale morning light filtered through thin curtains, a man was sitting naked at a desk, a cigarette dangled from his lips as he typed the keys of his laptop lightly in order not to make a sound. Once in a while he would write something down while humming very quietly. After a short moment the man glanced in the direction of the bed; his face showed surprise when he realized his companion was awake.
"Ah, sorry, Timothy, did I wake you up?" I asked.
"I woke myself up." Timothy sat up, wrapping bedsheets tightly over his arms and surveying the other person in the room from behind the curtain of his hair. "Aren't you cold?"
"No, see, this paragraph I had problem with? I just came up with the greatest..." I stopped gesturing with my pen and considered it for a moment. "Actually I am cold."
Timothy laughed quietly watching as I looked for my pants. Timothy realized, after reading one of my books, held me in regards as a great writer but, as with many creative professions, it came with the danger of my getting so immersed in creating that I lost focus on real life and forgot to dress, to eat, to sleep... or that I was with someone.
Timothy sighed deeply and gathered hair off his face. This situation wasn't easy. For him there was a certain disconnection between the physical aspect of sexual pleasure and actually doing it with someone, which he figured wasn't a problem for most people. He had to concentrate to stay in the equilibrium and achieve arousal and get to the point where actual physical response took over. It didn't seem to be a problem for his writer friend, who could get into the mood almost on command and on top of that had a stamina that would put many rabbits to shame. Timothy's physical stamina wasn't something he'd normally complain about, but he could not match his new acquaintance in that respect. Yet it was still getting more and more difficult for Timothy to actually go over the edge, because even at those times when my head was filled with prose and when Timothy saw that spark in my eyes, when I inadvertently spewed garrulous monologues of ideas Timothy lost the concentration completely. He still pretended. He helped me finish. He smiled. But he ended up sore and tired and unsatisfied and angry at himself.
He wasn't angry at me - it wasn't his fault. Timothy didn't even tell me because he had no idea how to explain it without me thinking that he failed at technique, that he did something wrong when it wasn't the case. Timothy's desire wasn't directed at people - it was as simple as that. He could make himself come strong in just a couple of minutes, but when he was with somebody it took much more effort just to come at all and it was much weaker and more than for the pleasure he really ever did it for that special connection with somebody... which made the fact that that somebody was more focused on music than on him really disconcerting.
Timothy stirred, realizing that I had said something; he raised his head and saw me hand him fresh pajamas.
"I said, you're really pale and should probably sleep some more. I hope you don't need to go to the university today."
"I do only my own research now and can basically go whenever I want." Timothy took the pajamas and rubbed his eyes; he was feeling drowsy.
"Maybe you should take the day off; you really don't look too good." I lay on the bed, waited for Timothy to finish dressing and embraced him tightly. "You're cold."
"I guess you're tiring me out and I have no energy left for heat," Timothy closed his eyes and let my warmth wash over him.
"Are those still giving you trouble?" I gently touched his cheek just below one of two diagonal scars, barely visible in this light, that framed his eye. Timothy didn't reply but I saw before in daylight that the scars on his face, arm, and hip, despite being now a good couple of months old, still looked pretty fresh. "Those damn curses really heal slow..." I gently made Timothy lie down, covered both of them with a blanket and tenderly put a hand over him.
"I guess with my present stamina we probably should not do this for a while..."
I murmured a confirmation and Timothy felt my fingers affectionately brush his neck.
As he was falling asleep, Timothy tried to take in everything he could: My steady breath, my warm arm over his back, the too-big-but-comfortable pajamas. He had already decided it was the last night he'd spend here.
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
He lived his life in the kind of frustration felt when you put something of sort of importance in a place of sort of specialness and then promptly forget where that place is. A rage lived in permanent residence on the nape of his neck. The kind of net rage spat onto youtube comments and reddit communities: indignant, impotent, misplaced. He walked everywhere, so his world had about a 20km radius. Maybe that’s why his tibia always felt flaccid. Or it could be cancer. Probably. But he loathed describing sensations felt, so a visit to a doctor was an impossibility. Strange, he thought, the way that his mind had set it’s self up meant that finding himself walking on the moon or sitting reading a year old magazine in a doctor’s waiting room were equal in improbability.
Monday, November 25, 2013
That shriveled old junky fucker doing what he does best. William S. Burroughs reads Naked Lunch in all his iconic sneering, slurring glory. Turn off the lights, grab a stick of weed, and masturbate your mind with this three hour masterpiece of sexual, drug-addicted horror.
Sunday, November 24, 2013
I’m not too big on brandy but I can enjoy it. I’ll drink whatever you put in front of me, really. Though I’d prefer the honest good shit. I don’t buy into any of this idealised bullshit anymore. Just wing it and be done with it. Write the damn thing and move on. It’s just words and this is just a page and there’s a time and a place for it all.
Idealism only gets you about as far as the back door, and then the boot comes to get you the fuck out of there. Nobody wants to listen to your ramblings, no matter how fucking cool they might be. If the sky is this translucent glop through which we stare through, so be it. Don Draper says it’s all about moving forward, Don Draper ended last season in a drunk tank and he’s all about looking back now. Sorry/not sorry for the spoilers there. You can’t be what you want, you have to be what you are. Anything else is vague mythology, and nobody’s got time for that anymore. Drink the brandy. There’s a truth in there, somewhere. Know it, hear it, smell it. It’s part of you. There’s no real destination, just this dumb passage you walk to/from the cafe everyday. You’re just ruled by a clock. That thing hits the next second and you’re whole life is all hang tied and cockholded.
Drink the brandy. Just fucking drink it. Grow some damn balls and don’t sip that shit.
Thursday, November 21, 2013
His childhood consisted mainly of oranges. It made his winters livelier, stuck at home with the American TV in Spanish subtitles. He often remembered his mother striking a match over the stove to the rhythm of the music on the radio. His sixth summer brought the bullets. He was in school at the time and thought it must be a parade when they started sending kids home. Men in blue with black guns speaking in every language but Spanish marched down dirt roads to his house, ordering families outside. His father hid him in the pantry, safe with the oranges two seasons ago.
It was an awfully long summer in the pantry. His mother opened it finally so he could help her clean his father’s blood off the orange trees. Since then, he could feel the change. There were no more Spanish subtitles on the TV, and his mother’s voice sounded suddenly sharp, filled with English where the silky accent she’d had all those twenty-four seasons had once been. Eight years later and the sharp, cutting English found its way in his heart. Often he told his blue eyed friends about the oranges in his backyard, and while they listened politely they still seemed to turn away too soon. To them it was a story. They could not, for some reason, see the blood shed from the cuts the sharp English made on his tongue.
Monday, November 18, 2013
Sunday, November 17, 2013
I can safely say without a doubt that I have simply wasted the past five months of my life. Waiting. Waiting on something that, in all respects, will not bare any fruit. I don't want to come across as whiny or a complainer, but hey, fuck you, this is my blog.
Let me give you the low down: I arrived in Tucson to stay at the Primavera Men's Shelter in the attempt to remain in their three month 'program' only to save money and continue my planned trip to Puerto Rico. Instead, within the first month, I was offered to rent at a transitional housing complex to await an apartment through HUD.
At the time, Tucson was pleasant and offered certain amenities which I found attractive. After a month at the shelter, I immediately moved into the apartments. Against many dire warnings from several transients who were past tenants. How bad could it be, I thought. After happily living in slums south of the border, I was certain I could handle it. And, so I did. It was not bad, rent was affordable, they offered a common kitchen in the main building. A state of the art kitchen with a well stocked supply of food so as I needn't worry about spending money on groceries. The housing was a two year gig where your only goal was to save money to attain a permanent apartment. The small room was clean and had necessary furnishings - a bed, dresser, bookshelf, end table, desk, some chairs. The only thing was you had to share your bathroom with an adjoining room in which someone else rented.
After the third week, I came to the sudden realization that this was definitely not a good move. The other tenants were, to put it mildly, the most negative, repugnant, unappreciative group I ever had to deal with. The worst that the American culture had to offer. Day after day, week after week, I had to tolerate the banality and dull conversations, the back stabbing and gossip, the accusations and racist remarks, the loud, over baring noises of half-deaf morons who yelled over one another's conversations. My assigned roommate was a seventy year old pedophile whose only line of dialog consisted of lurid stories concerning his fucked up family or his passion on screwing 11yr. old girls.
My patience wore thin. To receive my psych meds, I hooked up with the city's nut house, CODAC. One of the benefits was that they offered a program in which I would seek an apartment - anywhere, as long as rent was no more than $650 - and I would only have to pay 30% of my monthly income. It was enticing and I jumped on the deal. After a few stops and starts, that grinded to a halt.
So, I waited. And I waited. Biting my tongue and turning a blind eye to the rampant favoritism and idiotic negativity which surrounded me on a daily basis. Months passed as several tenants who came in after me attained apartments through various programs and left. I waited.
My patience is gone. I need to release myself from this horror that I had put myself in. As I mentioned in my last post, I have a ticket, but it is back to El Paso. I went online and saw HUD is offering studio apartments. That means I will be placed back in the building that I so much loathed. I fancied living across the border in Juarez - but, Juarez has become a dead museum. After the ravagement of the cartel, the town is a burned out cinder. All the wondrous locals of yore are gone and the old gal has lost her appeal to me. Plus, it - with it's sister city of El Paso - simply is just an ugly place to live.
Once again, my eye has turned to Tijuana. The notion of going there burns me, consumes me. Why don't I just pick up and go like I have done so many times before? Fear has been put in me. Fear of what I haven't the slightest idea. That is what confuses me. What has happened to me? Why do I dwell on the future so much? I need to stop this shit and worry about the now. Yet, as every manic-depressive schizo-effective on the planet can heartily state, "It's easier said than done."
Saturday, November 16, 2013
Through no ones fault but my own, online I had drunkenly purchased a non-refundable ticket to El Paso a week or so ago. But, I don't want to return to El Paso. My plan, such as it were, was to travel to Yuma, spending a month or so in the Mexican town of San Luis. Then onward to Calexico and eventually to Tijuana.
This afternoon, after not locating any icon for return/exchange tickets on the website, I walked over to the Greyhound station and was informed, after handing them the scribbled itinerary number, that I had purchased a fifty dollar ticket in the wrong direction.
"Is there no way that I can pay whatever fees and change the destination?" I asked. "The fare to Yuma is more and I do not mind paying the difference."
A resounding no from the stern, underpaid teenager at the kiosk.
I walked out into the midday, desert sun in a frump. I really had my sights set on this trip. I mean, I could forgo the ticket and simply purchase another for Yuma. Returning to El Paso or even Juarez leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.
Friday, November 15, 2013
I will be releasing a small book of poetry soon. Titled Class Conscious Poetry, it is a stab at flower sniffing, preening poets everywhere. More in the vein of if Charles Bukowski anal raped Jack Kerouac and then they wrote poetry on it. I hope it comes out okay. Here is the cover.
Thursday, November 14, 2013
The theater seemed like a rite of passage, the tender weight of eighteen years told Jerry as much, as there were layers of terror piled atop one another even before he could step through the wide entrance, even before he had decided he was going to do it tonight. He could see the men from where he sat, at the park across the street like a jilted soul, obscured and suffering. The men didn’t arrive together, he noticed; each one’s gait a variation of confidence, or maybe intent. There were some who darted glances here and there, as though angels or the police or their mothers were lurking behind, ready to bust them from their cocoons of shame. Yet some were casual, maybe a bit indifferent, while others huffed, impatient to reach the open mouth at the end of the tunnel, something more.
They purchased tickets from a tinted booth, and from where Jerry sat he could see the rectangular hole above the booth’s tiny wooden counter, and spied the anonymous hand that reached from the shadows. The hand took the cash and disappeared, then returned with change and a single stub, like a grotesque tongue that tasted the night. Five tongues conjoined in a Siamese freak, lolling under the alcove’s brown luminescence, shooing or pointing the patrons towards the double doors down the hall, before it slithered back into the dark booth, away from sight. It hid, waiting with one purpose, sticking back out for the next man, and the one after.
It was Tuesday, and the moviegoers varied as much as the moviegoers could vary. Some of them were old, some paunchy, some good-looking, bearded, muscular, lithe, sad, tall. A combination of two of those, or four. But the terrors and their multi-layered heft prevented Jerry from crossing the street, not yet. He sat on a pebbled bench at the park, frozen by a lopsided fear, staring at the theatre lights that boasted a forgotten skin flick nobody cared about. Home lay far away, a half an hour’s commute, but the small city circled into itself and he could run into people he knew. Or people he knew might see him enter, despite the baseball cap, because sometimes those who took intricate pains to hide themselves were the ones who stood out of the crowd; cowering, hulking figures that drifted above a rigid sea. And sometimes, people run into people when they wanted it the least, and it expanded into an awkward episode, riddled with indignity. And what if he met someone who knew him in there? Was it worth the shame, or the story?
Finally, Jerry stood from the bench and crossed the street. He stopped before the ticket booth and watched the hand creep out of its repose. It turned its palm upward and flicked its fingers twice, luring him to come closer. Jerry wondered what the hand tasted like, wanting the horror, the danger and the thrill it promised. He closed his eyes to an image of writhing silhouettes, varied shapes as much as shapes could vary, hands grabbing him, pulling at his clothes, ripping at his desires, opening them for him. He could smell the cigarette smoke, the piss on the walls, the fluids on the seats.
Jerry’s sharp breath gasped him back to his senses. A young man, with the endless night stretching in front of him, seducing him to kneel, kneel, kneel. Instead, he turned and hurried away. His broken chest firm about a new resolve. His heavy footfalls equivalent to tears.
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Since the science fiction novel has been put on hiatus - I simply can't seem to get into it right now - I began another work which concerns a rather peculiar friendship. I wrote about this subject a few entries ago. Below is the rough draft. Since this first chapter was written all in one sitting, I realize it needs major work and revision. However, it is a good start and I am pleased with the prose so far, even though I am dubious of the outcome. Novels are like that. Beginning in larval states, ready to hatch out and become their own monstrous entity unleashing unspeakable horrors onto the world.
I do know one thing, it will be about friendship and sacrifices of morals under dire circumstances. And it will be a comedy.
The yellow sun exploded over the skyscrapers on a cloudless, Wednesday morning. Kyle lay wrapped in a matted, pink blanket which he had found lying discarded next to a trashcan. It still held that funky reek of vomit and beer, but not as overpowering as the smell of dried feces and stale urine which permeated the alleyway that he had slept the previous night.
Kyle silently squinted, the sun rays bathed his face. He looked up into the sky above and it glowed a bright blue. The distant sounds of the city coming to life drifted down the trash littered alley. The whispering of cars, the pounding of air-hammers from construction sites, the wailing of ambulances. Kyle fell into a coughing fit and vainly attempted to shrink back under the blanket. He did not want to face whatever insidious shit the world was preparing to throw at him today.
Kyle was twenty-three. Fair skinned and ruggedly handsome. Thick, black eyelashes enveloped steel-blue eyes. His shaggy, blond hair was tucked under a red baseball cap. It was summer and he wore his regular seasonal uniform of white tank top and blue basketball shorts with sneakers. He had a lean and athletic build. Not tall, in fact, he was rather short. Which was commented on repeatedly, but Kyle kept a confidence air about him.
At first look, one might think that he held a high position of a clean jock in any major college sports team. A closer inspection unveiled the fine layer of dirt and grease on his face and arms. The dirty teeth, chapped lips and black grime under the fingernails, fingernails which had been chewed raw. The smudged clothes emitted a waft of unclean genitals and rectum. His sneakers, once white, were now smeared in black dirt and mud and stank from odor.
Moans of the living dead. The thirty or so others who shared the alley began to stir. Followed by a orchestra of coughing, sniffing, hawking, intermittent yawns. Kyle didn't want to see them. To look at those poor souls who shared his destitution. But, he had to wake up and grab his gear. Soon the police would cruise by and herd everyone off.
He flung the blanket off and began prodding a lumpy form next to him hidden under a dingy blue comforter.
“Billy!” Kyle croaked. “Billy time to get up.”
The form did not move. Did not make a sound. Kyle shook the lump more aggressively.
“C'mon, Billy. Get your fuckin' ass up before the cops get here.”
The person under the comforter grunted. Stirred. Then continued to snore softly. Kyle pulled the comforter down to reveal the ravaged head of an elderly black man. His face was twisted into a grimace as if he was suffering nightmares. Continuous nightmares.
Kyle lightly patted the creased forehead of his friend, “Wake up, stupid. They gonna be serving breakfast soon. Let's go get in line. Get your gear and let's go.”
Billy grunted, “Leave me alone, motherfucker. Let me fuckin' sleep!”
Kyle sniffed. Sat up and adjusted a loose lace on his weathered sneaker. “Fine. Fuck you. I'm getting ready.”
Kyle stood and began rolling up his blanket. He snatched a grimy plastic water bottle next to his backpack, took a swig, and then placed it in the over encumbered bag. The green and white bag was marked in crude graffiti, frayed with busted zippers. Kyle looked down at the prostate form of his friend and frowned.
“C'mon, ya old fucker. I'm not playing around. We gotta go.” Kyle stated.
“Where my shit? Find my shit for me. I gotta take a hit before we go.” Billy mumbled.
As the other homeless began filing out of the alley, Kyle stooped down next to Billy's comforter and began fishing under the folds. He pulled out a lighter, an empty beer can, and several waded tissues.
“Where'd you lose the fucking thing?” Kyle asked as he continued searching. “You got tore up last night. Keeping everyone up with your stupid shit. Everyone was yelling for you to shut the fuck up.”
“Fuck those motherfuckers!” Billy snapped. “I don't giva fuck 'bout them assholes.”
“Here it is.” Kyle said as he pulled a scorched meth pipe out from under the comforter. It was a glass stem with a bulb on one end. Silver streaks of residue lined the inside of the scorched glass.
Billy wiggled from out under the blanket. With difficulty, he sat up. Billy was fifty-four. Slightly shorter than Kyle, his dark skin was ashy and splotched with dust. A bulbous head, his hair was clipped short and unkempt. Lint and flakes of debris sat lodged in the curls. He wore a wrinkled, blue t-shirt draped over a frail body. Black jeans covered stumpy, bowed legs. The one striking attribute of Billy was that he possessed no arms, not even stubs. The birth defect ended right at the shoulder. When shirtless, he resembled a store mannequin with the arms removed.
Billy's face was a mask of perpetual disgust. A scowl that wouldn't quit greeted the world without hesitation. He always seemed pissed and to be honest, he always was. The hatred he held for his miserable existence consumed him into a twisted, despicable man.
“Gimme my shit, Kyle.” Billy said.
The blond reached into his pocket and removed a small plastic baggie of bluish, powdery methamphetamine. With thumb and forefinger, he took a pinch of the dope and placed it casually into a small opening at the bulbous end of the pipe. The remaining film of meth left on his finger he slid across his red gums.
“C'mon, boy, light that shit up!” Billy pleaded in annoyed frustration.
Kyle chuckled, “Gimme a minute, you fucking junky.” He placed the stem end of the pipe up to his friends chapped and discolored lips.
“Fuck you!” Billy snapped as he hungrily sucked on the stem like it was a cock.
As others nonchalantly passed to go about their daily drudgery, Kyle flicked a lighter under the already charred bulb and slowly rotated it. The crystals inside melted into a mercury-like consistency as the gray smoke swirled around the bulb and into the stem. Billy inhaled greedily, twitching and fidgeting in robotic spasms of addiction. His very cells tingled in anticipation. He glanced across the alley. There was a lone drag queen squatting against the brick wall. Smeared in vomit and urine, the drag held a look of utter desperation on his makeup streaked face.
“Hey, baby doll, can I have a hit?” The drag queen croaked in a voice roughened from years of cigarette smoke.
“Naw!” Billy spat. “I ain't got enough for you faggoty-ass mooches!”
The drag queen clopped away muttering obscenities under his breath leaving a reek of foul smells in his wake.
Billy's bloodshot and crusted eyes lit up. He threw his head back and exhaled a great plume of smoke up into the bright, blue sky.
“Good morning, America!” He howled, laughing.
Kyle chuckled and took a hit himself, “Crazy ass motherfucker.”
They passed the pipe back and forth between them ritualistically until the dope in the pipe was depleted.
Silently and with rapid movements, Kyle snatched up Billy's comforter, rolled it up, grabbed the various bags and bottles, shoveling them into an already over stuffed duffel bag and slung it over his shoulder. He took his smaller back pack and placed it onto Billy's back. The ordeal was quick and well rehearsed as they had performed the same routine countless times in countless towns.
Kyle wobbled, adjusting to the weight of the duffel, “You hungry? They serving breakfast soon. We best go get in line.”
Billy began marching down the alley in his usual duck like gait. He had the habit of remaining bent over and walking with barely bending his knees. At first, Kyle thought it was comical and reminded him of the old Felix the Cat cartoons and how that character strutted.
The two friends exited the alley and made their way through congested streets of early morning commuters. The pristine towers of downtown San Diego swallowed them up. Clean people in neatly pressed clothes darted past them, making a wide berth as if not to catch any virus or the chance the occasional tick would leap off the ratty two and nestle in their expensive attire.
Kyle did not make eye contact. He loathed those assholes who held a job, had an apartment, friends, loves. What kind of existence was there in forcing yourself to get up every morning at 5:30am, forcing yourself to shit, shower, and shave then fighting your way to a job where not only did you have to pretend to enjoy it, but remark on the fact of how pleased you were to be employed every time your asshole of a manager was within earshot. Kyle knew if he was ever forced to attain employment, he would purposely do the minimum amount required and constantly complain on how bitter he was. And why not? Why drudge through a damn job which paid next to nothing only to make others rich?
Billy and Kyle continued their way down a side street. To their right lay the shimmering skyscrapers of downtown where the rich frolicked and sipped their over-priced cappuccinos and walked their well groomed dogs, caring only on sports figures and social standing. Not on this street, though. The sidewalks were cracked, the houses sagged and were covered in graffiti with bars on the windows and doors. Garbage and dried feces mingled with bums who lay against light posts next to shopping carts over filled with memories and lost hopes.
The desolate angels of skid row howled and moaned towards the unforgiving sky. The reek of stale piss and unwashed linens overpowered the warm breeze which blew in from the nearby sea giving the putrid smell a salty tang. A bloated woman scavenged through an over-flowing trash can as a black man faced a wall rapidly masturbating under stained sweat pants.
Kyle and Billy approached an ancient wooden building which appeared to be a shop or market in it's heyday. Now it was a church and soup kitchen. Above the door, scrawled in amateurish paint read God's Extended Hand. A malevolent paw reached down from a cartoonish cloud to a group of stick figures in a flower field. In Kyle's mind, he referred to the place as God's Extended Finger.
Outside, lined along it's peeling, slatted, wooden walls, loitered a hundred men and women smoking, sniffing, and hacking phlegm onto the already plastered sidewalk. Most stood somber and vacant, staring out into a life of maudlin bring downs and disappointments while a few chatted or complained or outright yelled into the world. Hip blacks congregated in knots slinging dope and drinking from brown paper bags as their women cackled and screeched sexual innuendos towards one another. Mexicans stood silent, red eyes glaring from sad brown faces and flicked towards bearded, white hobos who guffawed and leaned, smoking rolled cigarettes.
Kyle and Billy took their place at the end of the meandering line. Billy wheezed and grunted as he propped himself against the wall, the high was wearing off and the discomfort creeped across his already scowling face.
“Fuck it.” Billy mumbled. “Boxcar selling some weak shit. That motherfucker better step up his game.” He paused, pursed his gummy lips. “Shit, I gotta take a shit.”
Kyle glanced over to a graffiti splattered, blue port-a-pottie stationed at the side of the building. He turned to a wizened, old coot who stood right behind him.
“Hey, man, excuse me. Can you hold our place. I gotta help my friend use the bathroom.” Kyle stated with open palm towards Billy.
The old hobo glanced at Billy's lack of arms and grunted, exhaling a plume of gray smoke from a rolled cigarette. “Yeah. Go on, I'll watch yer spot.”
Kyle jerked his head towards the portable toilet, “C'mon, Billy.”
The two friends made their way to the toilet. The door read occupied, so silently they stood in the gravel next to a foul smelling dumpster cascading with tattered trash bags. The smell of rotting garbage and the stink from the toilet made it unbearable. Billy arrogantly kicked the plastic door to the booth.
“Hurry the fuck up in there! There're people waitin'!” He hollered.
A muffled female voice stated from within, “Hold your fucking horses!”
“Just hurry the fuck up! I gotta take a motherfuckin' shit!” Billy spat.
The door flung open and a squat woman burst out. Hispanic, her black hair was teased into a high rats nest. Worry lines creased a face heavily made up. She wore a dirty blue halter top and yellow, spandex stirrups. Her chaffed feet were adorned in frayed sandals exposing cracked and molded toenails painted a vivid red. Though she was in her early twenties, her face and lumpy body made her seem older. Much older.
“Fucking old asshole.” She glared at Billy as she exited the toilet. “I should kick you wrinkled old ass in front of all these...” She halted when she noticed Kyle standing there. Her volumous red lips parted into a smile of large, discolored teeth. “Oh...hey, Kyle. How you doin' this morning?”
The blond youth looked down onto the oil blackened gravel. Shifting uncomfortably in his sneakers. “Hey, Gracie. I'm good. Helping out Billy use the bathroom.”
She shot a disdainful glance towards the stooped, old man. “Why you helpin' this fuck? He can't shit for himself?”
“I ain't got no fuckin' arms!” Billy barked.
“Sucks to be you.” Gracie arrogantly stated. She smiled at Kyle, “Look, baby-doll, why don't you meet me up at Balboa Park this afternoon? We can have some drinks, maybe fuck a little?”
Kyle flushed crimson and mumbled, “Maybe. I might have other things to do.”
She stepped up to him and layed a dirty, brown palm on his chest, “I'll ride the gay right out of you, baby boy. Make that dick feel all kinda good in this pussy.”
Billy began stepping into the toilet, “I got a STD just hearing that shit!”
Gracie whirled and screeched into the open door, “Fuck you, you worthless piece of shit! My ass is cleaner than your whole nigger body!”
Billy turned to her and smirked, “Bitch, my nigger dick would rip your nasty cunt in half.” He stepped forward, “C'mon, baby, let me stick this in ya?” He began making little thrusts with his pelvis.
Gracie rolled her overly-mascaraed eyes, “Oh, fuck no! I'd eat my own fuckin' flesh first!”
Kyle, fed up with this dialog, stepped in the doorway of the toilet between Gracie and Billy, “I'll talk to you later, Gracie. They gonna serve breakfast soon.”
As Kyle shut the door, Gracie chirped, “Okay, see ya at the park.”
The inside of the port-a-potty was a biological hazard. Shit stained toilet paper lay scattered around the urine soaked floor. In the cramped space, Kyle made the mistake of glancing into the toilet hole. Mounds of feces, soda cans, toilet paper, and cigarette butts piled up almost to the rim of the seat. In the morning heat, flies buzzed and the wafting aroma almost caused him to projectile vomit.
“Help me with my pants.” Billy mumbled.
Kyle reached down and unbuttoned Billy's jeans. He jerked his friends pants and soiled underwear down to the ashy knees. Billy plopped onto the damp toilet seat and used the shitter loudly and abundantly. Billy sat and grunted and wheezed.
“Fuckin' shits all clogged up. Feels like I'm passing rocks.”
“No need for a commentary. Just hurry.” Kyle sighed.
“Don't fuckin' hurry me, kid. One of man's greatest pleasures is that long, good shit first thing in the morning. Life's taken everything else from me, don't deprive me of this simple enjoyment.”
“Now your getting all philosophical and shit.” Kyle grinned.
“Best ideas of mankind occurred while sitting on the toilet. Fact of life. Never forget that.” Billy grunted.
They remained silent momentarily amid the fetid stench of Billy's tortured grunting and raspy farting. The dankness of the toilet booth had become mind-dizzingly unbearable.
“Okay, that's it.” Billy mumbled.
Kyle glanced at the toilet paper dispenser. It was empty. He reached behind Billy, unzipped the backpack, and removed a used roll of tissue. Billy silently stood up and bent over. Silently, Kyle used several sheets to wipe the dark matter from his friends buttocks. Tossing the stained paper into the pile of shit in the hole, Kyle stooped and yanked up Billy's underwear and jeans, fastening and zipping up the front.
“That it?” Kyle said.
“Yeah. I'm good.” Billy stated. “Let's get in that line.”
Around the front of the building, the line had grown progressively longer. Deranged tramps and bent elderly chatted. Kyle and Billy returned to their place in the que. The metal door at the entrance clicked and swung open. A frail elderly woman popped her head out and smiled at anyone who would meet her gaze.
“Good morning.” She rasped. “What a blessed day the Lord has given us.”
“Good morning, Sarah!” Several derelicts squawked.
“'Bout time you opened, I'm starving!”
“What's for breakfast this morning?”
“Sure smells good!”
“Ya got coffee this morning?”
“I'm so tired.”
“Better be better than yesterday's slop.”
“Show a little respect. The shit's free.”
“My ass itches.”
Kyle glanced around at the bums and his gaze unfortunately fell on Gracie who stood leaning against the wall of the building staring at him. When their eyes met, she flashed a lascivious grin, reached down to her blouse and exposed her tattoo covered and stretch mark lined breast. She jiggled the floppy orb at him while mouthing, I love you.
Kyle smirked and looked away, shaking his head humorously.
Slowly, the group shuffled inside. In a large room there was a row of metal chairs and plastic, folding tables. The chairs were dented and the tables were covered in grime and scratches. The dark, wood paneled walls were plastered with religious posters and icons. Towards an opposite door lay a small stage and podium. The transients morosely seated. The area became so cramp that their elbows touched as they sat. Momentarily, a withered, old man made his way to the podium and a hush washed over the weary throng.
The old man opened a well-worn bible and said, “I am reminded of a verse this morning taken from Matthew 6:25-27 'For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food? And the body more than clothing?' And in Luke 12:6-7 we read: 'Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight. But even the hairs of your head are all counted. Do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows'.”
Kyle drifted into a stupor. The man's voice droned on and on. His stomach growled as the people around him coughed and sniffed patiently for the sermon to end. No one cared. No one wanted to listen. The souls who sat captive only wished to eat and continue on their daily routines of addiction, alcoholism, and madness. What was there to live for anymore? What reason did anyone have. The world had went to shit and Kyle knew, you had to remain a deviant in this country of false promises and ideals or die of boredom.
The old man continued, his voice attaining that of a bleating sheep, “I have never been addicted to drugs or alcohol and I have always believed in doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. I do not like people stealing from me, so I do not steal. I do not like people cheating me, so I do not cheat others. Simple. Just because I’m homeless doesn’t make me a hopeless sinner, doomed to hellfire. One of my favorite scriptures is Matthew 7:1-5, 'Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye'.”
Kyle glanced over to Billy who looked as if he was about to doze off. In fact, a few of the men in the room had fallen asleep and began to snore loudly. The old pastor on the stage ignored the obnoxious snores and continued as if he was the only person in the room.
Finally, the sermon ended and the throng stood and lined up at a small, rectangular hole in the wall to be served luke-warm oatmeal, a greasy sausage, and bitter coffee. The men and women coughed and hacked as they retrieved their meager breakfast in tiny styrofoam bowls and cups only to sit in depressed finality back at the rickety tables. The room was morosely quiet as they slurped and gagged at the meal.
Whispers and side remarks issued through the still, tangy-smelling air.
“This shit's cold.”
“The coffee tastes burnt. It tastes burnt to you?”
“I could caulk a wall with this oatmeal.”
“Is that what it is?”
“Show some respect, the shit's free.”
“Free or not, it's still shit.”
Kyle sat next to Billy, spooning the mess into Billy's slavering mouth with a plastic spoon. Intermittently, Kyle would wipe a glop of sticky mush from his friend's face. More oatmeal dribbled onto Billy's stained shirt than would remain in his mouth.
“You're making a mess.” Kyle said.
Billy just grunted and slurped. “Coffee.”
Kyle placed the cup to Billy's mouth. He slurped. “Damn, shit got no sugar.”
An old hag who sat across from them reached into he large, tattered purse and removed two packets of saccharine. She handed them to Kyle.
“Here, sweetie, I got some you can have.” She said to Billy.
They both mumbled gratitude as Kyle ripped open the packets and dropped the contents of each into their coffee cups. He stirred the sweetener with the spoon he assisted Billy with.
The old woman smiled a row of discolored teeth, “That's mighty nice of you to take care of him like that. That is kind.”
“Thank you.” Kyle said as he shoveled another scoop into Billy's mouth. “He's my buddy. Known Billy for years.”
“How did you two meet?” She asked, kindness beamed from her wrinkled face.
“What are you the fuckin' cub reporter for the Daily Asshole askin' so many fuckin' questions?” Billy snapped. “Bitch, mind your own goddamn business.”
She scowled, “You don't have to be so rude.”
“Fuck you, bitch!” Billy snapped. “Just eat your shit and let me eat mine without sitting here listening to your annoying ass voice.”
In a flurry of tattered rags, the old woman stood up, grabbed her bags, and stormed out, “You are a worthless piece of shit! You deserve all the horrible that happens to you! Both of you!”
“Does that include smelling your stanky pussy?” Billy barked. “That stench is enough to gag the Holy Ghost!”
The room busted into guffaws and snickers as the woman stormed out. One of the women servers popped their head out from the hole in the wall and looked around.
“We'll have no foul language in the Lord's house!” The woman from the kitchen commanded.
“That fuckin' bitch needs to shut her fuckin' hole!” Billy stated.
The woman glared at him, “Sir, you need to leave.”
“I ain't goin' no where, you old cunt!” Billy snapped.
The crowd began mumbling as the tension rose. They knew what was going to happen. Two large, old men marched into the room and stood behind Kyle and Billy. Kyle knew the outcome. Experienced it countless times.
One of the men, pink faced, gray haired, in khaki pants and a white shirt, rumbled, “Sir, you and your friend have to leave.”
“I ain't done eatin'!” Billy stated.
“We aren't doing anything.” Kyle pleaded. “We're just sitting here.”
The other man of equal size scorned from beneath a bush of curly, red hair, “You both need to leave, now.”
Kyle quietly rose and began to gather his things. Billy on the other hand was not going out before leaving a mark.
“Ya'll motherfuckers are racist! Some white bitch starts talking shit and y’all gotta throw the black man out? You christian fuckers always talk about being good to your fellow man. Ya'll only good when your fellow man is either rich or white!”
The woman from the kitchen stood at the entrance, fists firmly on hips, “You both are barred permanently! You no longer are allowed here!”
Billy wobbled to his feet, “You pinch faced cunt! You white motherfuckers been saying that same shit to black people for too long! You think we're not used to hearing that? I don't want to be seen in this racist shithole anyway!”
“If you don't leave now, I'll shut the whole place down.” The old woman said.
“I'll burn the whole fucking place down.” Billy spat.
“How? Ya got no arms.” Yelled a hobo in the corner followed by an uproar of guffaws and cackles from the transients.
Billy whirled in the direction of the remark, “Fuck you! You racist, too!”
A large, burly man in a red plaid shirt looked at Kyle, “C'mon, man, best leave. You gonna ruin it for every body.”
Kyle looked resignedly at the man and put a hand on Billy's shoulder. The place was turning nasty and Kyle knew he didn't need the entire homeless population of San Diego turning against him.
“Let's go, Billy.” Kyle said as he placed the fastened the backpack onto his friend.
“Shit! I just want these motherfuckers to show a little respect.” Billy mumbled.
“You got no respect for yourself.” Stated someone. “Start there.”
The two friends quickly strode out the door into the bright, early morning sun. They stood on the cracked sidewalk adjusting their various bundles. Kyle reached into his shorts pocket and retrieved a crumpled pack of cigarettes. He removed the sole cigarette and lit up, tossing the empty packet onto the ground.
“Gimme a smoke.” Billy said.
“Last one. We can share.”
“How much money we got left?”
Kyle pursed his lips, grimaced, “Two and some change.”
“Fuck! That it?” Billy exclaimed. “How we gonna score my shit?”
“Guess I'll go out and hustle up some cash.” Kyle sighed.
He put the cigarette up to Billy's mouth. The old man took two great puffs which resulted in a hacking fit. Billy bent over and hawked a yellow glob of phlegm onto the pavement. Kyle stood there watching his dilapidated friend.
“You going to be okay?” Kyle asked.
“Yeah, don't worry about me. I'll get Bruce to front me some shit.” Billy rasped. “Just go on and handle your business.”
“All right. I'll meet you for dinner at the shelter.”
Kyle turned and quickly strode towards the row of gay bars at the edge of downtown.