2/12/15

It must have been the worst he’d ever done. After three hours of standing then sitting, sitting then standing at on that corner, he had finally collected six dollars. Enough for one wash and one dry. If he got one of the good dryers that would be enough, but some of the dryers just weren’t good enough to dry clothes in one cycle. So he’d need three more dollars to make sure.

The light turned green and the cars drove away again. He’d got nothing from that group. The clouds began to shed something. It hadn’t rained in a while, despite it being winter, and as the drops darkened the ground a smell of ozone came to Doug. It had been a warm winter, warmer than any he could remember. And they said global warming was a

myth. . . What a joke. Who was still saying that, anyway?

“Hey.”

Doug looked up from the darkening pavement.

“You want it?”

The guy was in a sleek vehicle. In the passenger seat was a little girl–not a young girl–or she was young compared to Doug, but not young compared to the driver of–was that a beamer? But she was small and wore that stupid lowcut type of shirt that fooled nobody. Or, Doug reflected, maybe it fooled everyone. He wasn’t sure.

“Yeah,” said Doug, reaching out his hand.

The night blue beamer inched forward as Doug went to grab the bill.

“Come on man,” said the kid. “It’s going to be green soon.”

Kid had jelled, sorta spiked hair like what was cool back in the 00s, was smiling a shitty grin. Sad. Doug stopped.

“I’m not going to chase you,” he said. “I could really use that though. I need to do laundry.”

The smile dropped from Kid’s lips. His mouth went thin and he sorta puckered his lips, folding the bottom one under the top. “Right,” he said. “I’m sorry. Sorry,” he said. “Here,” and he held out the bill.

The light turned green. Doug had been through this before. Kid acts all saddened then drives away waving money out the window. If Kid really wanted to give it to him he wouldn’t drive away, even with the cars behind him waiting. So, Doug waited.

“Green light,” Doug heard the girl say. “Go, Tommy.”

“Here, man,” said Kid.

Doug just looked at the bill.

“Just take it, man,” said Kid.

Behind the beamer someone hinked. The rain pattered down still, not large drops but enough to leave a dampness on Doug’s wool sweater.

“Go, Tommy. Their honking.”

“I don’t give a shit,” said Kid.

Then Doug stepped forward and took the note. It was a 50. A 50!

“Do you laundry,” said Kid. “Just don’t spend it on alcohol or drugs. Alright?”

“Sure,” said Doug.

“I mean it,” said Kid.

“Tommy, fucking go!” the girl squeaked.

“Just wait a Goddamn minute.”

Cars were pulling into the other lane and driving around the kid’s beamer. Some people honked and waved what were probably middle fingers.

“I mean it, man,” said Kid to Doug. “Do something you use to enjoy with it. Do something that nobody would expect. Just don’t go drinking–and no drugs.”

“I don’t do drugs,” said Doug.

“Good,” said Kid.

“Good,” said Doug.

“Have a good day,” said Kid.

“You too,” said Doug.

The light was yellow now, Kid went anyway, almost turning his tires on the newly wetted pavement. Doug could hear, in his head, the bitching Kid would get from that little barbie he had been with. $50. What would he do with $50?

 

2/10/15

Doug fucked things up with family members because he wasn’t really good at things. He was good at being homeless, but that was about it. He wasn’t good at being a brother or a son. He’d thought of being a father once, he’d even had the chance, but had let that go because his sister had talked him out of it. Judith had never been the most encouraging sister. Now she didn’t really need to worry about him. None of them did. Last he had heard Judith had made partners at wherever, and his parents were hitting off on another cruise. They loved cruises. When he had been a kid they had gone on one and left him in charge and he’d thrown a party and some how, he wasn’t exactly sure how, his mother’s antique snowing machine had been broken. This had seemed impossible at the time as the thing had been weighty wood and heavy steel, an artifact of when they had made things differently.

Doug looked in at the knitting store. He’d thought making his own hat and close would have been a lot more cost effective than buying them, but when he’d first gone in there, to The Wool Ball, he’d found the knitting needles, the yarn, everything so much more expensive than just buying something from the Fred Meyers down the street. This was his corner, now that Brooks had co opted the on ramp. He’d never been one for cardboard signs. He thought that was disingenuous. It made it so he didn’t have to talk to anyone. He simply had an old mug he sometimes used for coffee after asking the people at the starbucks to wash it out, and he would wave and smile and hold out the cup to cars as they stopped at the light.

In the first hour he got fifty sense. It was Sunday and still early, so church hadn’t got out yet. He’d never bought into that stuff himself. He’d stopped going with his folks when he was 11 or something. It began to rain, not large drops, just the small ones–nothing like in Wyoming.

“Hey,” a girl in a red Jetta was stopped. She was holding out a dollar.

“Thanks,” said Doug.

“You have a rain jacket?” she asked.

Doug looked at her, she had to be one of the college kids. One of the girls who did those walks of shames and he saw going into Caps Tavern every night, or maybe she wasn’t even old enough, he thought.

“I got this,” he said, tugging on his sweater. He’d gotten it from the Goodwill but he hadn’t paid for it. He’d just put it on and walkout.

“That’s not rainproof,” she said.

“It’s wool. It keeps you warm.”

“You don’t sound like a homeless person.”

“I am.”

There was a honk from behind her. The light had turned green. She sped off without another word. And Doug suspected she’d not think of him ever again.

 

2/9/15

Doug walked past more fake grass patches and blinded windows and long green doors. After the block of new apartment buildings he took a left and down the street past a coffee shop with a bronze sculpture of a pig outside near the door. Even though it was cloudy overhead it was still warm and smelled like ozone, but there was still one person sitting in an outside chair with their dog’s leash tied around the handle bar. The man sat with his legs propped up on the other chair at the table, his legs crossed. His nose was buried in a book.

It had been a long time since Doug had ready anything. He’d picked up some novels back when he was in school, but that was a long time ago. Before he got all fucked up. He enjoyed reading all about families and how they’re all dysfunctional. Those were his favorite novels because reminded him of him. He was the one that brought dysfunction to the family. Last time he’d seen his Sister–Mom–Dad, it was like everything fell apart once he stepped in the door.

The hardware store was closed. The only day it closed was Sunday, so now Doug knew it was Sunday. Sometimes he went in there for a razor blade once his got so dull he couldn’t cut cardboard very easily. When he did that the lady behind the counter watched him the whole time. It reminded him of going to his parents house. Everyone was afraid he would steal something. But it’d been a long time since he’d done something like that.

He took a right on Hodges St and crossed the road over to where the onramp to the freeway was. Brooks was already staked out though.

Doug stopped across the street from him. The taillights of cars in the morning were downcast on his face as they came to the stoplight.

“Hey Doggy,” said Brooks.

Doug nodded. All the others called him Doggy. He didn’t know why. He’d never had a dog, unlike so many other bums like him.

“Brooks,” said Doug. The walk sign came on the he walked across the street to where Brooks was.

“I tell you I don’t want you coming around my spot,” said Brooks.

“I’m not.”

“I say it last week. This my spot,” said Brooks.

“Not when you’re not here,” said Doug.

“Doggy, Doggy. It’s always my spot.”

“Yeah? Since when?” asked Doug.

“Since I tell you that,” said Brooks.

Brooks was homeless for all the wrong reasons. Not because he fucked everything up if he was around, but because he couldn’t stop the drink. Probably not the drugs either, but Doug didn’t know about any of that.

“I need money for laundry.”

“I h’aint got none,” said Brooks.

“No laundry?” asked Doug.

“You know what the fuck I mean.”

“Fine. But last time you needed something, remember what I did?”

“Sure I remember,” said Brooks. “But if I h’aint got any doe I h’aint got no doe.”

The light turned green and the cars pulled forward and away, speeding onto the freeway, speeding faster away from Doug.