Awoke amid farting, snoring, and coughing at the break of dawn in a surprisingly positive mood. My left leg, which had been giving me so much pain since I fell, seemed better. A little tender when I made sharp turns, but other than that the throbbing ache had subsided.
I was going to remain at my bunk and convalesce, but the obese blob who sleeps next to me was the day prior released from the hospital for some physical malady and spent the entire night and early morning snoring and belching into my face. Well, not to allow that to dampen my mood, as stated, I rose, showered, dressed, ate a couple of bruised bananas from the kitchen and headed out into the blasting golden desert morn.
I stopped at the local convenience store for a small coffee. Most wretched swill I drank in some time. I tell you, the quality in goods in this country has been flushed down the shitter and that toilet has been backed up way too long. Best get some coffee at a café downtown. While waiting for the bus, I gave the full cup of coffee to an elderly bum who shuffled up to me tattered and half blind from the nearby bushes. He sincerely thanked me as we sat at the bus bench chatting over nothing.
Later as I exited a downtown bagel shop with a decent cup of joe and a toasted bagel, I ran into two acquaintances from the shelter. A tall lanky black guy named Mike and his friend, a squat elderly Native American named Marvin. After being asked what was on my agenda and my answer being ultimately nothing, the two invited me to go find a quiet spot and smoke weed and drink. Certainly. Wouldn’t you?
In the dusty mid-morning heat, we found ourselves ambling down garbage strewn alleys and along blackened railroad tracks behind long vacant and decrepit warehouses. Eventually, we came upon a small hobo camp occupied by two others: A sunburnt and withered old white man named Larry and his friend an equally sooty old codger with a man of white hair and beard called Carl.
In the shade of broken factory windows, we sat and rolled fat joints. Marvin took donations and disappeared to return with four bottles of cold 40oz. of liquor. The conversations, stilted at first, became more and more liberal as weed and alcohol passed weary and dirty hands, hands shiny over the dirt.
Long and exuberant tales were spun by the each of us. Stories concerning past travels, past loves, past hopes and let downs. These were free men. Not tied to time schedules, bothered by regulations and political acceptance. These were the last of humanity. If there was hope for mankind, the hope lies in the deeds of like-minded individuals who do not heed to the Doublethink of today’s general population. To go as one pleases, to live as one deems fit. Not concerned with the notion of being held a prisoner in a gilded cage and a slave to debt, as most people are. What I am attempting to say is, I felt completely content with these men.
The group were quite fascinated by my tales; especially my stint in Mexico. I of course omitted the faggish parts, but then again, I do not think it would had mattered. When I stated that my intentions were to continue to Cambodia, the general query was why?
“Why not?” Was my only reply.
Why not, indeed? What am I living for if not to go where I want, do what I want, and say what I want. I realize this aspect pisses a large number of individuals off. Fuck them. Apart from a select handful of friends, I never cared to placate the sulky, whining shits who I mostly come in contact with. They don’t approve of me or how I live? Too bad. The best part is they are never in any position to do anything about it.
As time passed and the weed and booze were eventually depleted, I bid my farewell. Old Carl was already curled up snoring beside a concrete parapet and Larry was happily incoherent, singing old rockabilly tunes to himself as he rolled cigarettes in which he delicately placed in a dented aluminum case with nimble fingers. Mike and Marvin stated something to the fact about getting cheap pizza. I wanted to be by myself, as I often do, and think.
In the blistering afternoon sun under a bright blue sky of 105 degree heat, I shuffled through downtown scoping out the small shops. I darted in as smooth and inconspicuous as possible into Johnny Gibson’s market and purchased a roast beef sandwich with a side of tots. Sitting in the cool shade of the back patio, I chomped my sandwich as, through the back entrance, blew in an attractive young Latino man. He was higher than shit incoherently mumbling and bumping into furniture. I silently watched his lithe yet jerky movement like a lizard watching the path a delicious insect. He made his way to a row of sofas against the wall and began undressing. A tattoo covered, copper colored torso was offered to anyone who cared to ogle. My eyes, slowly and lasciviously, followed the row of six pack muscles of his abdomen to the jet black happy trail which disappeared down the front of dirty, sagging chinos. He, of course, continued his undress oblivious to the silent abhor of the other lunchers. Fuck them. Snooty assholes. The moment he pulled his chinos down (boxers were candy striped and grimy) to change into black track pants, the manager or some apprehensive employee burst from the sliding glass door of the store and shooed him away. Laughing and shirtless, the young Latino swaggered out of the patio and disappeared down the back alley.
Returning to the heated streets, I took the bus back to the shelter. Before walking down that dusty unpaved road toward its entrance, I found a stump under a poplar tree and lit a cigarette. I thought of current events…what I have done since myself exile from Tijuana. Do I hold any regrets? Nope. Not one. If anything, it has cleared my thoughts. Fresh and clear as a spring morning. I have never been more coherent or positive in far too many months. I was filled with…hope.
In contrast to my satisfying vibes, I returned to the stale unpleasant air of the shelter and once again lay in my bunk, listening and not listening to the empty patter of the 100 or so hobos around me…