I got off the bus on Travis St. next to a small park that was a hang-out for all the bums and vagrants. The vagrants weren’t too bad in this city, at least not in my experience, and you could shoo them off easy with a stiff glare and pursed lips. One time I was standing outside a nightclub after a rock concert and a drunken hobo came meandering by. I was busy talking with my friends and I suppose he thought I was talking to him and he just yelled out, “What you say, boy?” I was taken aback at first, but then I manned up and shot back forcefully, “I wasn’t talking to you.” His eyes glazed over and he turned and started walking, mumbling to himself again as he had been before his mistaken moment of lucidity. I don’t know what I would have done if he had decided to pursue a confrontation, but in a way I’m glad. I had only been in one fight on the streets. I ignored the people sitting in the park, waiting at the bus line for their next meal. Of course they asked for money but I didn’t have any to give them. It wasn’t safe to give out money to one in front of their friends because then they would all ask you for money and for some reason the homeless tended to have a photographic memory and they could spot you out of a crowd if they knew you had a giving hand. I felt bad for most of them. Sometimes I wondered why they chose to do it. Sometimes I think some of them really believed that they had no alternative, especially the ones that had a fit with the government. I talked to one once who told me that he wasn’t gonna work because the government was taxing his income and taking money out of his pocket and putting it into the pocket of bankers that didn’t even live in America, bankers who didn’t like America. He said as long as they were going to do that, as long as they were going to continue to be un-American and break the laws of the Constitution that he wasn’t gonna work and pay for their condos and face lifts. I told him he was wrong and that working was good and that it was what we were supposed to do because of the law. He laughed in my face and told me there was no such law and that I needed to grow a mind of my own and find out the truth. Most people believe they are crazy, homeless people. Of course I thought that if what the man was saying was true, he wasn’t giving himself any credibility by living on the streets. No one would believe him and things would never change.
“Strangers With No Home” is a vignette written by Michael Aaron Casares. All rights reserved.