Monday, October 1, 2007

Homeless Bust (aka: Bad Day on the Street for Wolfie)

By hughgee

"And stay out, y'dirty bum!"

"Wolfie" Bob Smith left the homeless shelter early that day, punted out the door on his arse by the normally good-natured proprietor for last night's endless streams of profanity and exposing himself.

"You're not coming back tonight. No more soup for you, jerk off."

Wolfie was sprawling face down in the gutter. Moments later, when he could recover enough to shakily stand upright again, Wolfie beat his arms and his chest to try and stay warm. He didn't have much on under this trenchcoat.

Wolfie looked up, cursed the sky, cursed that airplane over there, cursed the morning moon, the remaining few stars; he looked at the old flapping wrinkled newspaper at his feet. Yesterday's. He cursed the mayor, the president, congress--everyone and every thing whose fault it was that he was homeless. Someday, he always told himself, someday he's gonna write a book about his life, his setbacks, his misadventures and peccadilloes. He'd call it "Wolfie's Memoirs" and it would be great and sell a million copies and he'd be rich. After all, Wolfie knew what a talent he was at writing. He knew it like he knew the back of his...something. He forgot. At any rate, he couldn't start writing just yet--Olde English 800 had just started coming out with tallboys in bottles.

Still looking down at the decrepit, tattered newspaper, Wolfie whipped out his johnson and began urinating on it.

"You call THAT writing?" he bellowed, histrionically. "You guys think you're journalists, do ya? Well, ol' 'Wolfie' here could do ya one better. 'Cause I'm-a, I'm-a, I'm-a, why, I'm-a helluva writer. Just axe anybody. Anybody 'round here." Wolfie pronounced "here" like "heeyah." It was coming out in stop-and-go dying stream now, the final disgusting drops of morning homeless free-spirited yellow relief.

"I coulda been a contender," Wolfie bawled, becoming sincerely, tearfully maudlin for a just a moment, as only hard-core alcoholics do. "I coulda got me one of them Poolitzer Prize thingamajigs. If'n I'd ever want to, I reckon I still could," he concluded, feeling much better about himself now that he got that out of him finally and the yellow jaundiced words too.

Finished relieving himself on the sidewalk, Wolfie Bob Smith took a couple of staggered steps forward, stepping through the puddle he'd just made, his wholey-soled Vans soaking some of it right through. Wolfie kept on, this was his normal rolling gait; for every few steps forward, tricks of gravity and a permanently soused sense of equilibrium caused him to sway, then shuffle sideways, then shuffle and sway and stagger sideways to the other, like a drunken sailor in a storm.

At one point, when he'd finally crossed the street, Wolfie fell down on both knees, then to all fours, and began to wretch, then began emitting Technicolor tawdry chunks of homeless vomit, much of it splashing back up, bouncing off his own red hanging face, a few flecks taking up a more permanent lodging in his even redder, scraggly beard.

"HOOOOOO-AWWW!!!" he wretched. "HOOOOOO-AWWW!!!" Gasping for breaths in between each ghastly convulsive upchuck thrust. His drug and alcohol ravaged mind reminded him even here of what a great writer he could be, whenever he wanted to, any second now, he just had to decide, that's all. Looking down, his head swaying freely between his shoulders like a Mexican dashboard ornament, his eyes bloodshot and wide and yellow, he thought how gloriously, how movingly he could describe this growing, steaming rainbow heap of his own vomit in front of him. If only he had a pencil and paper and was ready to go.

Damn you, Olde English. Rusty Nails. Damn you. This is all your fault, Wolfie thought. G. Heilemann Brewing Co., you did this to me. You've so far made me delay my successful launching of my literary career. Hell, I could be a famous novelist by now. I could be up there with Richard Frost; F. Scott Fitzsimmons; Kirk Vonninguts. I could be there. I deserve to be. I gots the talent. Now if I could just only lay off the sauce.

Hey. Wait. Check out that ant I just puked on, thought Wolfie. Cool.

He dragged himself upright again and, sauntering, staggering off, Wolfie began doing what he normally does to pass the time: Grabbing the lapels of his decrepit but warm trenchcoat, opening and closing, a rapid flapping action, exposing himself to anything that walked or didn't walk. Wolfie Bob Smith was an incorrigible flasher. Most amusing of all, perhaps, was his strange sense of humility and decorum he nevertheless kept to: He always made sure to wear at least a homeless dirty T-shirt and his boxer underwear, stained brown from over use and excrement, boxer shorts that once were shiny silvery-white with bright yellow happy faces galore, but now the happy faces were upside-down, inside-out fading beige sad faces with a few holes in them, a few strangely bent black hairs pointing out.

Wolfie turned a corner onto Brewer St., mumbling to himself about what a great writer he is, staggering onwards until coming upon a fire hydrant. Wolfie flashed the fire hydrant. A bench. Wolfie flashed the bench. Some small sleeping somebody, covered in a cardboard blanket on the bench. Wolfie flashed this too.

Yikes. The somebody moved. Wolfie recognized it.

Oh sh*t, it's her, thought Wolfie. Toothless Carol. Wolfie blinked, trying to wake himself from this half-awake-life, the other half a chronic somnambulant hop-and-barley-fest.

The gal didn't have a tooth in her head, save for one vaguely brownish stump of one in the front. Good ol' Toothless Carol. A real local around these parts. A legend, really. One of the truly few homeless women in this town, the homeless men outnumbering them about 10-to-1, typically. She sat up on the bench, rubbing her tongue over her gums, rubbing her eyes with her fingerless blue and black bum gloves. She cackled like a caricature of a witch. A cartoon witch. The one that gave Bugs Bunny all that trouble every Halloween, thought Wolfie, only smaller. A lot smaller.

"Yeh-hee-hee." She cackled. "Cars. Cars when they drive, they, you know, who makes them? Not man, I'll tell you. It's not in the Cosmos. Not man. It's a mystery. A gol-durned mystery. So be it!"

Wolfie recognized her mindless, mind-shot, homeless woman banter. She was nuts. Been out in the elements too long. Too far gone by a long shot. But Wolfie knew something else about her: Toothless Carol was a terror. A notorious bum-roller when she got upset. This knowledge, combined with the earlier upchucking his guts out, made Wolfie's unkempt complexion white as dried bird poo. He shook a bit more than usual, knowing what he was up against, what and whom he was standing in front of.

Wolfie'd seen her do it before, this Carol. She'd rolled his homeless male buddies, his friends--well, a couple of them, at any rate. He was there, he saw it; he knew her technique. For years in this town, he'd always managed to stay clear, to lay low around her. Until this morning, until he'd flashed before looking.

Wolfie stood frozen and looked into that toothless formerly feminine falling apart maw, and he realized something. He knew suddenly that, if he wanted to, he could write a description of this ugly face, Carol's hideous toothless, caving-in grin. He could write it out in spades and similes, enclose it cleverly as a character in a story, and then he'd make the big bucks and be famous. If he ever wanted to. He certainly had the talent, after all.

"C'mere, jet planes. Exxon's calling you out from the dark," she mindless rambled, rubbing her exposed fingers together like she was greedily counting invisible dollar bills. "Planes. You fly because I say you can. I have the power to do all that. You obey because you're part of my endowment of essence. Sooooo...never forget it."

Wolfie knew her heightened ramblings meant only one thing: She was feeling feisty. He'd pissed her off by foolishly flashing her. When Carol was feisty, you ran. You'd better. That was the rule. So he did. Others have tried, others have paid the price. Just go. Move. Get out of here. Standing your ground was futile. Other homeless guys tried, other homeless guys just got rolled. Without exception, as far as Wolfie could recall.

Wolfie told his body to run but it wouldn't. It was too far shot. But it could stumble and stagger, so that's what he did. Wolfie made off, he hustled as best as his wobbly legs would carry him. He had to escape--and fast!

Carol got up from the street bench, adjusted her shawl, grabbed hold of a shopping cart nearby which held all her belongings, and gave chase, cackling all the way.

It was a pitiful chase, something almost geriatric to it, though neither Wolfie nor Carol were all that old. They just looked old. Carol followed along, pushing her shopping cart with both skinny fists, appearing stern and shaky, like an old woman pushing an aluminum walker.

"Yeh-hee-hee, yeh-hee-hee," Carol cackled. It didn't take too long before she'd cornered Wolfie in a box alley, her cackling, him huffing and puffing, wheezing and retching. He'd trapped himself.

Well, at least someday he could write about it, maybe. He'd have to fight his way out, he knew. No escaping it now.

Wolfie was still a pretty big guy, after all. In only his muscles weren't shot from malnourishment and booze and drugs. Then again, he just remembered, she eats the same homeless fare I do, the same homeless shelter soup and crap that they serve. And what's more--she's a chick, after all. Or at least she used to be. She never had the muscles to begin with, so there.

Wolfie was considering this, and pondering the timeless, undeclared, but always ongoing battle between the sexes, in every facet of life. He was waxing philosophical. A residual flashback pang of LSD he'd taken as a teenager shook loose from some fatty deposit in his spine. He touched his chin, stared off into space. He loved moments like this. Moments of reverie and flashback druggy happy paradiso. He could be a great philosopher someday, he knew. If he ever just wanted to. If his brain just said the word. Someday. Someday it would happen. He could be a more famouser philosopher than Dana Plato even.

While Wolfie was tuning out, Carol was closing in. Little more than half his size, she shuffled up, cackled on, then kicked. Her dirt and mud encrusted tennis shoe parted in between the open buttoned middle of Wolfie's trenchcoat like curtains.

Wolfie's big druggy-dazed smile disintegrated, his big upper body instantly arched, and then the whole shambling hulk raced downward in an apparent attempt to beat Carol's dirty kicking foot back to the ground. See which one touches first. It's Wolfie. The only thing he would ever beat her at.

Wolfie Bob Smith lay in a homeless fetal ball, clutching his broken homeless crotch and gasping, suffering from a bad case of ballbusting-induced emphysema.

"Yeh-hee-hee," she tormented and cackled down at him, jumping up and down incessantly, peevishly. She stopped, cackled some more, then began stripping him of his trenchcoat. The only real thing he'd ever had between his fatbody and the real miserable elements of the coming night, and the next night, and the next one. Carol rolled Wolfie one way with her dirt-encrusted shoe, then kicked and rolled this large helpless lump on his other side, as she pulled her prize off him. Wolfie continued holding his stricken privates, staring up at her wide-eyed and paralyzed like a rigid but alive wasp-stung bug of some kind.

"I'm gonna need this coat. Yeh-hee-hee. Yeh-hee-hee. It gets mighty gol-durned cold at night, dontcha know. Yeh-hee-hee. Yeh-hee-hee. Hey, let go o' yer nuts so's I can git it off around yer wrists. Leggo. Leggo or you'll be a mite sorry, I reckon. A-yeh-hee-hee."

Wolfie was just in the middle of thinking how, if he ever wanted to, he could write about this. Change the characters around; it'd make a great scene in some cops and robbers story or something. He definitely had the talent to write it and make it a classic. He knew that much.

Just at that moment, Toothless Carol stomped on his hands, which offered no protection to the balls they cupped; the force of the blow just went right through, driving the little malnourished hapless victims into his pelvis.

Wolfie let go. Carol got herself a new jacket.

Well, not new, exactly. I mean, they were homeless, after all.

Wolfie's pain was abominable, primordial. He lay there for a long time, a filthy homeless guy in nothing but an awful smelly T-shirt and disgusting, abhorrent boxer shorts, holey socks and decaying shoes. Eventually, when he could almost think again, when is about as good as it ever got for him anymore,

Wolfie thought about the pain, just how shockingly bad it was. And he knew he could write about it, if he ever felt like it.

Wait. Forget that sh*t. Mayes Liquor Mart. Tallboy bottles. He'd have to beg and loiter all day, but if he did, by the end of the day, he might have enough for a sixer. Maybe. It was a definite maybe, if he could just get up.

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