Doctor Guzman sat across from Paul - harrumphing and mumbling like a Bolshevik with marbles in a greasy halitosis stained mouth. Paul had a psychoanalysis exam with the onsite nut ward at the shelter, but he couldn’t get word one across with that quack. Every single time he asked Paul a question, the good doctor would interrupt an answer by digging through a drawer of his cluttered desk to produce a random pamphlet on arcane mental treatments. “Yes, yes dis you may find interestink...”
This man is insane, Paul thought.
As with other shelters, any client who confessed having acute depression or the slightest inkling of suicidal thoughts were ordered to see one of their state trained doctors. Paul rationed this time around perhaps he was a little touched and decided that it may be in his own interest to seek help concerning his unique proclivities.
“Your terminal homelessness and manic-depressive induced mood swings are the product of a terrible loss in your life.” The doctor warbled. He leaned over his desk and leered at Paul with tiny, clasped hands. “Can you recall any event which may have triggered these obsessions?”
Paul thought. He sat pensive and couldn’t recall any direct or single occurrence. There were too many.
“No.” He finally said. “Not off the top of my head. I’m just depressed a lot. Whenever I get tired of where ever I am living, I pack up my gear and wander somewhere else.”
“Yet,” The doctor beamed. “The problem always resurfaces, yes?”
“Yeah. No matter where I go, there it is.”
“Do you have fleeting thoughts of low self-worth? Do you ever think of harming yourself?”
“You mean suicide?” Paul asked. “Oh, all the time. I mean, why not? This world is shit. Only a mad man would care to continue in such a hostile existence.”
It shocked Paul into an awareness to utter those feelings aloud. He deeply felt that way for a long time, but to speak it…
The doctor pursed his fat lips, “That is not healthy, my young friend. Life is good. Life is exciting. Life is as wonderful as you make it.”
“Then I’m fucked.” Paul sighed. And the insidious part was Paul actually believed it.
Holy shit, Paul thought. I really do need help.
Towards the end of the session, a surly nurse - grinning moronically, glaring menacingly - produced a small plastic cup with gray horse pill coupled with a tiny red one - pushing it in Paul’s face.
“Look.” Paul chuckled nervously - eyes ping ponging back and forth between the two. “I don’t wanna take these and wake up in some asylum.”
“No - no. I am your doctor - you can trust me.” He stated flatly without emotion - face unreadable as a cold poker player - a fine layer of grease lacquered his black hair like a helmet. He resembled a predatory sea creature.
Down the hatch. Shortly afterwards, Paul was issued an entire pharmaceutical of pills - mood stabilizers and anti-psychotics and was scheduled a follow up two weeks later. Walking out, Paul felt no better - if anything, more upset that he had wasted three hours with that croaker.
Once back at the shelter, Paul passed out from the effects of the dope only to be awoken from the obnoxious pestering and raucous chatter of the morons who lived there. He stumbled around in a slurring hostile blur - pissed that the fucker of a croaker over drugged him.
Never going back to that asshole again.
Days later, Paul sat on a bench out on the back patio without moving for seven hours straight. He attempted to think how he began the day, but his mind was in a thick fog and he didn’t attain the abilities nowadays to do anything, much less think. Everything had been burned out...he sluggishly faltered. Five days had passed since he began to administer the prescribed medication from the psychiatrist...So, he remembered five days ago...
Paul awoke with a start of fear, gasping for air, about an hour before the lights snapped on in the dorm. He lay there thinking of the nightmare he had until the lights blinked on at 5:30. A grating voice boomed over the hacking and farting of the waking men.
“Good morning, gentlemen of Santa Teresa. For the guests and clients who slept in the dayroom and the chapel, please strip your mats and place them in the bin provided in the dorm. breakfast will be at 6:00 a.m...”
And so on and on it went. Paul’s lithe torso felt as if he had been beaten with a rubber club and his eyes were crusty and tingling with pain. He reached next to his bunk and grabbed an old plastic water bottle and guzzled the liquid greedily. It hurt going down. Seizing his pajama pants from the end of the bed, he preferred to sleep in his boxers and t-shirt, Paul placed his feet into plastic shower shoes and clopped through the wooden maze to the men’s bathroom. It was already crowded. Stale clothes, dirty backpacks, white-tiled floor smeared with water, mud, and shit. The odor was enough to make an ambulance attendant puke. The filthy mirrors over the sink were positioned so as to force once to watch some old, dirty bum squatting on the toilet. Loud sound of grunting and farting produced toxic steaming shit. Ker-plop.
Paul shuffled down the hall towards the main office, not hearing the various “Good Mornings” chirped at him from the natives. Today he began his medications as prescribed by Dr. Guzman. One Welbutrin XL in the morning taken with six Seroquel followed by a Depakote chaser, beautiful little darlings. He plopped them into his mouth, washing them down at the chrome water fountain that was losing the battle against algae and grime.
Then the call for breakfast. Burnt, gray oatmeal. Paul attempted to eat it, but the drugs began to take hold. His speech was slurred; his body seemed to be made of hardening plastic. He couldn’t concentrate...like being drunk, but not being drunk. A couple of friends and Steven sat at his table.
Steven looked worried, “What’s wrong?”
It took Paul five minutes to say, I began my medication today.”
After chewing on some horrid, stale toast, Paul returned to his bunk. Head spinning, legs twitching, terrible cotton mouth.
He fell into a deep, deep sleep.
Paul awoke up with the fear of suffocation. He swung his legs out and sat at his bunk. Staring slack jawed at the dusty, brown tile on the floor. It took him twenty minutes to get up the energy to rise and walk.
What fucking time is it? He thought, swirling a dry tongue around a sticky and gooey mouth. 3:53 p.m. Okay. Need to take a shower.
He entered the shower, white tiles covered in orange and green and black fungus. It smelled like bleach and shit. Letting the hot water flow over his torso, Paul stood there swaying. Time dragged.
Dressing, he walk as if in a dream through the dayroom, always a chess game and television blaring a football game, and towards outdoors. The sun burned his eyes and Paul donned his cheap sunglasses which he had purchased downtown for three dollars. The long, wooden bench was quite full. Old and worn smooth from the rub of a million hobo asses; warped from the elements, it now seats the heroes of the underworld and forgotten. Paul sat among those fools, smoking his last cigarette, staring. The sky was a big, bright San Diego blue and gave everything a shimmering hue. A swarm of flies, the quantity of biblical proportions, danced and fucked on the row of tramps. Paul sat as immobile as an iguana in the sun, staring at nothing, thinking about nothing. The sun swung across the cloudless sky and time dragged.
A large, white truck arrived with donations. “Attention men in the shelter! We need a few volunteers to help unload these donations. If we don’t get any help, the television in the day room will be shut off!” The Voice blared from a loudspeaker. The mission received all kinds of great donations, but the homeless never saw it. Good food was donated, yet the kitchen served crap...where does it all go? Two or three brown-nosers rushed to help, Paul sat and let his cigarette smolder down to his fingers. Time dragged.
“Well, you look thoroughly medicated.” Quipped someone at Paul beyond his gray screen.
Three, four hours passed and Paul got up to take his afternoon meds. One more Seroquel. Another Depakote. Plunked a pill into his mouth and downed it with water from that foul fountain. Even the water tasted rancid. The hallway began to spin and he returned to the bench and listened down into himself. It was time for dinner and not really hungry, Paul poked through the unsavory stew and settled on a bruised apple.
Outside the sun was going down and the sky was so clean you could count the stars. The loudspeaker, that Voice of Big Brother bulldozed through the tranquility. “Attention in the mission! It is time for Chapel services. Everyone is encouraged to attend! The television will be shut off all night if we do not get a big turnout!” The television is apparently shut off.
Various men stomp out of the dayroom into the fresh air and grumble, “Damn! There’s a football game on!”
“We can’t watch it ‘cause they havin’ church.”
Paul looked up, slurred, “Yeah, God don’t like football.”
Time dragged. A dog rolled around in the dry grass. The flies swarmed and clustered. Up the hill, the interstate was breathing. Across the skyline, the yellow lights began to flicker in the white skyscrapers. Steven returned from a day at Labor Ready, that temp work joint. He held Paul’s head in his dirty hands and peered into the Nothing.
“Man, they got you fucked up.” He mumbled.
Paul wanted to hold him, but it was too much an effort to move.
“Help me to my bunk”, Paul asked. Like an invalid, Paul clung to Steven’s muscles as he is escorted inside.
“Better to see you strung out on fucking junk than this shit, dude.” Steven whispered as he lay Paul onto his cot. “I hate seeing you like this. There is nothing in there.” He puts gentle hands over Paul’s eyes.
“Don’t worry, buddy.” Paul smiled. “I’m cutting this shit out as of today. Better to be insane than a fucking zombie.”
Within seconds, Paul was asleep.
Growls and guttural screeches from the tyrannical lesbo cafeteria lady/man during breakfast shocked the hobos into focus. Flinging goo onto greasy trays and making harsh comments to all.
“This ain’t no restaurant!” She bellowed from a scowling, round face. “Eat and get out! No socializing! I ain’t got time to wait around for you slackers!”
Soft mumblings from the grime covered tables, men huddled over their trays spooning in the slop. Paul sipped his tepid coffee in depressed resentment. Cold. And cold in a way that was deep down inside. Feeling a sour mood.
Breakfast consisted of a thin, pink stew with chunks of something in it that made it look a lot like vomit. There was a puddle of the mess on the table and Paul swirled his spoon in it while listening to snatches of dialog drift across the room. Paul languidly munched on a bruised banana.
“What are you doing today?” Steven asked. He sat across from Paul, shoveling spoonfulls of the pink mess into his mouth.
“I’m doing it.” Paul uttered.
“Well, I got an interview at a Turkish café this afternoon.” Steven beamed. “I’m going to ace that. Just you wait, buddy, I’ll be back in Hawaii in no time.”
Paul sipped his coffee, grimaced at the taste, “Good luck with that, Steven. I really hope you get it.”
Paul decided to drag himself out into the morning mist and spent the morning languidly strolling around downtown and occasionally applied for a job. He filled out applications at two hotels for a clerk position and as an attendant at the movie theater that he and Steven trespassed through.
He simply wasn’t feeling it. The depression was hitting him hard. He stopped taking the medication prescribed to him and spent most of his time aimlessly roaming around in a frump. He accepted that his life was pointless. That he was to spend it alone and in sad solitude. With that finality, it made the depression worse. He simply wanted to be alone. Alone and think.
Paul made his way to a small park and sat under the shade of a tree. He watched a gay couple frolic in the grass. Two, young men laughing and cuddling on a blanket. Paul became angry. He knew he’d never have that intimacy with anyone. He thought of his own personality. What was there to love? What was there left to care about? Paul wished he was dead. To end this never ending loneliness and sadness. He sat and watched the couple lay immobile, entwined, stealing kisses under gathering storm clouds. Paul sighed, rose, and walked around the marina.
Afterwards, he jumped the blue line back to Santa Teresa’s and that sun beating down all hot and nasty. Pigeons dived and swooped around the station spreading their vermin.
I hate nature, Paul thought. If you stand still long enough in it, something will shit on you.
Paul was crossing the station platform when someone boomed out his name and the echo reverberated, scaring the crap out of six pigeons and a bag lady. Literally. The lady shit right onto the cement a thick, stagnant caramel colored discharge. A small child began to cry.
It was Steven calling out to Paul.
“Hey, Paul!” He hollered again as he rapidly strolled up. “Damn, man. I didn’t get that job, man. Said I needed more experience or some stupid shit. That fucking sucks!”
“Okay.” Was all Paul said with a casual shrug. He didn’t care.
The two friends walked through the throng of paralyzed phantoms towards the shelter. A block from the trolley station, an elderly, black hag was straining to push her cart down the broken sidewalk. Dressed in tattered clothes covered in shit and a prunish head topped by a ratty, blond wig, she sneezed and her dentures flew out of her mouth and onto the dusty ground next to the sidewalk. She bent over with a huff and snatched them up. After washing them off with a cup of stale coffee, the deranged looking hag placed them back into her diseased, festering hole.
Paul looked at Steven and stated flatly, “I can die now. I have finally seen it all.”
“Yeah.” Steven laughed, “We call her Freakshow.”
Paul lit a bummed cigarette and moved on. They entered the patio of the shelter. Paul looked around; not listening to what his blonde friend was going on about. Paul thought as he gazed around at the sordid and grimy denizens, A heavy air of depression hangs over this place like a thick, smelly funk. I have been here too long. The bum kicks piling up far past my tolerance level. I want to move out; my patience is wearing really thin. No one here I want to associate with. I had a very low opinion of homeless folk before entering this place and it has gotten worse.
- excerpt from hobosexual, work in progress