Monday, April 5, 2010

The Lion - Part 9

I found it just in time. I was starting to get discouraged. All the goodness of the day was evaporating. One of the ghosts was knocking hard on the door in my head. I could hear her and I didn't want to let her in. She always got in anyways.  Sometimes I would press my hands to my head to keep the door shut. She would knock on it to get my attention. It sounded like a woodpecker and it made my head hurt. The knocking would stop and I would hear her voice, I knew it so well. She would tell me "You're a fuckup. Don't kid yourself. You're a fuckup. It's your fault. It's always your fault." I would yell at her "Go away Mom!"  Sometimes she wouldn't leave and I would start crying. She was so mean. I must be bad. Mom's always love their boys. She said so. It must be me. She is right. I am bad and a fuckup.

She was going to get through the door soon. I was going to have to hurry up and get back. Find somebody with something to drink. If I drank enough then it didn't bother me so much. Sometimes to get the money I would have to be a bad boy. That wasn't so bad most times except when they hurt me. Even then it was okay because I was a fuck up and deserved it. As long as I knew I could get free I was okay. No matter how bad I felt I never let them tie me up. Then I could get crushed. Crushed by their love. Crushed by monsters. Crushed by their oily snakeyness in me.

That's when I saw it. A midget metal house. Jeebus I hoped this one didn't have spiders. I didn't like spiders and the last one had a lot of them. I just gritted my teeth and looked anyway. Heroes need hearts and I had to find  one. If I had to deal with spiders then I would. When I got out of the last metal house without finding anything I felt like spiders were on me. Crawling up and down. Up and down. So I rolled in the grass. That was fun. I felt like a big dog until that made me itch too. I had grass stains on my clothes. It made for a good smell. A summer smell.

This little house was going to have to be a quick search. The door was squeaking and pecking. I had to go back. I just stuck my head in and there it was! Just like someone had left it for me! A trowel! It wasn't alone either. It had friends. A claw looking thing and tiny little rake were next to it.  Standing up nice and tall next to them was a shovel. It was a family!  I said "Sorry" to them, then I reached in, grabbed the trowel and ran. I don't know why. I just did.


  1. Nova,you catch the intense literal mindedness and generalized fear/anxiety of so many of our homeless perfectly.They are incredibly attuned to the emotional states of the people around them especially reactions of fear or anger.The reaction to gardener was also spot on,gardener had no revulsion,no fear and no anger,he just calmly said what was ok and what was not.This is good writing of a sort very few can do.

  2. I reread this work and am struck again by your understanding of this damaged character.I run across one of our local chicken coop residents from time to time and always stop to talk for a few minutes(we have a chicken coop subculture).The struggle he goes through to break through the voices in his head to communicate even briefly is impressive,but those few moments of being treated as a human being seem very important to him,he always seems thankful.

  3. Tom,

    Yes, of course. Just be acknowledged is probably a big deal.

    Thanks for the kind words. It is nice of you to leave them. It's a good thing you are doing when you stop and talk to him. It costs you nothing but a few minutes but may be all that is keeping what is left glued together for him.

    Oh, should anyone read this. This Tom Stone is not Tom Stone the photographer as far as I know.

  4. Another well written installment. hanks.

    In my experience the environment will determine the personality of the homeless who hang around. You will also notice that they will move from one area to another depending on their state of intoxication...or whatever personality is dominate at the time.

    This past winter I saw one of my regulars, Carlos, panhandling sober near the Plaza. I saw him sharing a bottle several blocks away by the end of shift near dark. The dogwatch guys were called by Project Uplift people even farther down the creek to recover his body.

    Sad. I thought he had a chance if he could shake the booze.

    Jim in MO.