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.



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.