120 Days of the Bunny Part V
7/20/98 3:27 PM
Somebody (probably a bum) once told me that it's better to be homeless in the heat than in the snow. Having done both, I can honestly say both suck pretty badly. Homeless is a strange State. When the snow falls, bums huddle up & hide; they disappear from sight almost completely. When the heat comes up though, they roll out and stagger the streets with these soaking, dazed reddish-brown complexions that go way past the surface. You can see it penetrate into them in this unstable flailing helpless sort of resigned walking coma. You realize, once in the State, no one is going to help you. You're caked in dehydrated crystallized sweat from the last time you moved or blinked or walked to find food or something to drink or were just told to leave where ever you were because you, in general, suck and are scary and the crystals magically re-moisturize when the sun hits you. And you get this ripe edge, the kind that keeps you out of restaurants and grocery stores or any place else that's air conditioned for nice-people's comfort. All you see is heat distortion coming off the asphalt, and mirages of friends who are dead or lost or a thousand miles from where you are right now, and then spinning white stars and then you sleep, and sometimes you die.
I'm going down to the Basha's on Main and Lazona to pick up some green peppers for the food stamp fajitas I'm making tonight in my nice cool house where I now have a bed and a towel and a bar of soap and all kinds of good stuff like that and I pass by at least 50 of the heat zombies. They've all got that cup of warm water in their hands.
A 60-something pony-tailed Vietnam-era veteran (who patters on to me about being 'In Country'. Ya know man, in the 'Nam) asks for change when I'm trying to get an extra set of keys made for MA's truck (because when Howard got arrested for FTA last month in her truck, they confiscated the keys and MA has too many felony warrants to go down and get the damn things back) at Luc-Keys on Stapley. He's got the 500-yard stare going for him and a white-styro cup of warm water shaking in one hand. I offer him like $2 in food stamps and he laughs at me, "I don't want that crap! I wanna get a cold beer." And I think, "Dad??" and it passes.
Whilst foraging in the desolate and neglective (word?) urban wilderness, you really don't have a whole lot of time to be nice beyond a cursory attempt at humblity (is that a word?) You live inside a Ronco food dehydrator. (But it was only 107 F today) You tell them what you want, accept what ever it is they give you (could be change, could be a lecture, most times it's a frightened excuse) and you move along as quickly as you can to the next. Over and over. And if you're quick enough and clever enough maybe that day you don't die.
He wanders off to a couple coming out of the DAV thrift store with his cup slopping side to side and I drop the keys off (Cost: $6) to the hippie boy/key-maker guy/probably manager of Luc-Keys head shop and key emporium.
I jump back in the truck and head over to Walgreens for smokes and beer (Tip: don't share your money for these essentials with anyone you don't know really well. This simultaneously cuts your risk factor for hepatitis-B in half and also helps you avoid the extremely unpleasant sensation of being anally raped by an escaped or legally released mental patient. Just a suggestion. Listen or don't).
Who's at the liquor counter? That's right, she's working yet again. I let her read part of what I wrote the other day and she said that if I kept writing about us, she'd "stab me with a fork until I was done!" Whatever the fuck that means. Then she said, "Don't!" in a way that made me think an 80's - What ev-er. You knew what you were getting into cutie, now cope! The bunny lives but for a single minded reason (no, not to fuck, drink or smoke. Although those are some damn fine motivating factors). But for pages. Endless streams of paginated thought noise. If this kind of carbon arc exposure is incongruous to the fostering of happy well-adjusted intimate human relationships, well I can't be held responsible for that. Can I? I didn't invent the system. I just urinate behind it.
Americans are all characters in a badly produced 2nd grade play about the urgency of human sexuality and somehow they always manage to throw something in about giant aquatic turtles towards the end to make the thing look educational. They run around aimlessly bumping into each other, like their everyday movements and interactions haven't been blocked out 10,000 times since they graduated college and got their dream jobs, they make these bizarre hand gestures that only they understand, they're constantly forgetting their lines and making up new ones as they go that don't fit with the plot at all and that just serve to confuse the other actors around them to the point of street brawling and Jesus Christ! put them behind the wheel of a car and they think they're that little Jap kid flying around in the belly of Giant Robot. "I'm indestructible! Zoom!!!!! Honk! Honk! Get out of my way ass-bag!" So if she doesn't want to be in the book, she shouldn't fuck & like me so much. If all the human souls I meet must be crushed into charcoal starter fluid like so many pomegranate rinds against the genitals of Mark Twain himself to create a little bit of art in this crap hole world (I spelled it carp-hole, but then went back and fixed it), well that's not my fault. Is it?
So I buy two 40's of Natural Light ($1.29 ea.), a pack of smokes ($1.69) and ask her what time dinner and sex are tonight and she says, Fuck off!" in a whisper and then tells me 11p and I stroll out the automatic doors. (Total: $4.55 - refer to receipt marked Dead Bum Day). Outside, there's another, younger (maybe 30) bum digging through the little trash can by the doors. He's got that trailer-park-portrait of Don Johnson-in-a-sensory-depravation-tank-for-too-long look about him and he's carrying a broomstick with a nail in it (A lot of local area bums carry these devices. They serve the dual purpose of extracting edible trash from the bottoms of very deep dumpsters and also in fending off the other mental patients sleeping behind the above mentioned dumpster who'd like to kill you, take your aforementioned edible trash and have sex with the neat tight holes in your belly that these devices leave behind when used properly. It would be interesting to see if these implements already have a name. If not, I think I'd call them: Shish-ka-anti-anal-rape-u-lators) in one hand and a 64-oz Thirstbuster cup full of warm water in the other. His clever opening line is, "Hey!" He says he's starving, so I give him $1 food stamp and he takes it, either actually being hungry or having better connections, as to exchanging food stamps for beer, than the first guy and he goes back to digging in the trash with his shish-ka-blah, blah blah and I get back in the truck to go pick up the keys.
Now, around back of the Walgreens, there seems to be a commotion of sorts. Cops are blocking off the passageway behind the pharmacy and telling people to use the other exits. Hmmm? What's this?
I park in front, get out and walk back around. There are legs sticking out of the dumpster corral! A nice young officer (22. Maybe), with a sweaty facial sheen of sun-moistened acne stops me saying, "Ya havta go 'round." I think, "Now what fucking language is this man speaking?" - YA HAVTA GO ROUND. Is he the carnival barker for a Yiddish carousel? Anyway, the bunny smells fresh baked Arizona dumpster corpse and to deny said bunny full access to the pan-sensual spectacle of 107 F dead body look'n at and smell'n would just be wrong, in every sense of the word. So I whip out my (expired, but not printed as such) identification card identifying myself to the law officers of Soloman, Relahan and Blake as a completely legal (prior to my untimely dismissal) disaster removal specialist (that's really what it's called) from Melcher's Mortuary and I ask if there's anything I can help with. They think the mortuary sent me, and let me through walking me right up to the body and gagging themselves silly like the big faggots that cops are when they see dead people broiling without the proper permits.
He's 60, maybe little older, in Wranglers and no shirt. He's sunburned bad and fat, like beer fat though with love handles nobody wants to handle anymore. Monochromatic big-needle prison tattoos of Harley eagles and titty-naked women are here and there all over the place. And the fat's separating out to oil blisters under his skin from the heat. He's been dead less than a day, maybe. I don't know, I'm not fucking Quincy, I'm a drunk bunny who's seen a bunch of dead bodies, so I'm guessing. He stinks, that much is for sure, like dead - but like sick dead, like the smell people get when it takes them a long time to die, in bed, from a germ or a cancer or something other than a shish-ka-stick or a brick to the head. It looks like the corral was his bed. All his stuff is here. I snatched up an old b/w photograph of a younger less dead him (I think) and some woman that was blowing by on the ground next to him when the cops weren't looking. He wasn't stiff anymore. "All this being dead's just made ya soft boy!" One leg and one arm were kind of thrown over, kind of fetal, kind of splayed clutching air, and you could see from where the piss stain's dried on the concrete that the back seam of his jeans was ass down when his bladder stopped listening to his brain. Somebody rolled him over after he'd gone to meet the choir-invisible. More than likely it was some Good Samaritan who was looking for his Driver's License or some other form of ID, so they could inform the nice dead man's grandchildren that, "Poppy went to live in heaven with the angels", and then when they took the change from his pockets and finished off his wine decided, "Ahh, fuck em. He's dead." Holy shit! I am Quincy.
Welcome to the A&E presentation of: polycarp D.E.M.B. (drunken examining medical bunny). In this week's episode, (titled: Why do I HAVTA GO ROUND, officer?) polycarp tackles the tough social issue of dead people stinking up perfectly good liquor store/pharmacy parking lots and the implications this type of behavior holds for the Hassidic sector of law enforcement as well as for the Jewish community at large.
I tell the cop, I'll need to go call the mortuary and the ME on Jefferson downtown (Phoenix, not Mesa) for a van and I wander back to the front, get in my truck and drive off to pick up my keys up the street. They didn't see my truck, or write down my name, so I'm not too worried about getting arrested for the thing.
Now let me ask you, is it better to die in the heat or the snow? Given a choice between the two, I'd pick neither. Being dead sucks regardless of the climate, as does homelessinicty (word?). At least in the cold you've got the Byrd's Eye fresh frozen thing going for you, but then again in the heat you die with a really cool tan. Life's confusing enough without trying to figure where you want to be when you're dead. Worry about what to do when you grow up first. And for god sakes, work on memorizing your lines. We're dying out here. A gramma bum lady asked for a quarter in the Basha's parking lot. I gave her a dollar.
I'm sitting here with James Joyce staring at me from the cover of the Dubliners and The sky is poisonous garden is blaring and I'm full of fajita and beer and as happy as a fully-engorged New England deer tick. I realize how fucked up this life thing is. But Why else were we here and Who else is there? Laura now? 3 hours to Laura " she said please don't go, she says please don't go and she cried as she died you know the stars are bright and the sky is a poisonous garden tonight " Joyce had the right idea, "Everybody sucks, but me."
Whenever I see a body no matter what the State, I get sick. Not physically. Not even mentally. But inside, behind everything else, I break off a little more, there's just a little less of me left over to deal with the mundane crap that takes that certain amount of mental wash-over and blinder-mind to give a shit about in light of the overwhelming landscapes I find myself in. I get the same feeling coming off meth, only stronger. The meth come down is sitting in an Episcopal church full of Lutheran corpses with your checkerboard set up and your gamble'n money out on the table and nobody will play with you because you're Irish Catholic. They think you'll cheat somehow.
Joyce keeps staring at me, being all Irish and dead like he is. Laura's all pissed at me for drinking so much. I said Hey, bunnies are notoriously self-destructive creatures. Look at how many of us throw ourselves in front speeding cars on the nation's highways each year because of how bad things have gotten. You don't think bunnies scamper out into the road accidentally, do you?
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