Most don't notice me. In my world, I reside alone. Isolated. Detached. Those who do take notice, well, let’s just say they don’t look at me with much admiration. No respect, no appreciation. There is, however, a shitload of misunderstanding. Even if someone bothered to stop and learn the truth, I’m not sure I would give it to them. I am invisible to most and a nuisance to the rest. That invisibility usually works to my favor, and being a nuisance, well, that just leads to a little fun now and again.
But, they’re right, you know. I made my choices, chose to be here. I did it because I needed to remind myself that I was in charge of my own fate. Before all of this, I didn’t feel I had much control over my life. So, while I may be isolated and alone now, nobody has more power over me than I do. Not anymore. So, look down at me. What-the-hell-ever. When tomorrow comes, I will still be doing what I want, and you will still be doing what you’re told.
Doesn’t mean that I don’t sometimes wish it were different. It’s not easy out here, not easy at all. But just when I think about going back to what folks call ‘the real world’, I get just a taste of it and change my mind. It’s the people I want no part of. They are what make things so miserable. Don’t get me wrong, they’re not all bad. But so many folks are unhappy or angry all the time. How do I know? I hear it in their voices, but more than that, I feel it. Their pain, fear, sorrow... all out in the open for me to see and they don't even know it. Whether they realize it or not, a brief moment of their life is mine to do with as I please.
Don't believe me? I can prove it.
Just the other day I saw a beautiful woman, though I am sure she thought she was more gorgeous than I did. In fact, I am positive of it. It is exactly twenty steps from the door of the little adult toy store to the cafe on the corner. The café has four large panel windows and she stopped at least five times to fix her hair and check her make-up. Personally, I think her lava-orange locks clashed with her day-glow red lipstick. Her rack, however, was amazing. I know because my face was almost buried in it when she tripped over my feet. My life flashed before my eyes but I was gonna die with a smile on my face.
“Eww. Disgusting.” She sputtered as she fought for balance. “Like, isn't there a shelter you can go too?”
“Yeah there is, Sweetheart, but you forgot to leave the door unlocked last night.”
She muttered something unintelligible and power-walked away, slowing only to look at her reflection one last time as she made her way to Prima Donna Palace somewhere on the uppity side of town.
Within an hour she was back.
She apologized to me profusely for having been so rude. We spent some time talking and I eventually caught her staring into my deep blue eyes with intentions I hadn’t experienced for quite some time. I knew from the moment I saw her that if she would give me just a moment of her time I could win her over. I was right. And, to be honest, her hair wasn’t that orange, and the red lipstick wasn’t bad either.
“Here’s a little cash and the key to my condo. Get yourself something to eat in the cafe over there, and then go let yourself in. Here's my address, I should be home around five. Please, let me make up for my rudeness?”
My heart fluttered with seismic palpitations as I wished like hell the end of that story was true. It's supposed to drop below fifty tonight. While fifty isn’t too bad a temp, four walls around you sure makes it feel a lot warmer. But, alas, I am still left here to my thoughts, playing grown-up make believe. Hell, I’ve got nothing better to do and a brief moment of some would-be beauty queen’s life has been left for me to twist as I please. Not my fault she was more concerned with how she looked than she was with watching where her feet were.
“Hey, Blue, looks like you need a new box. That pigeon just shat all over that one.”, a voice laughed.
“Shut-up, Slumpy. You're just jealous cause you're still stuck in the newspaper villas. This is temporary housing anyway, moving to Willow Park in the morning.”
Life isn't so bad out here on the streets. I come and go as I please, the world is at my disposal, and I act at my own discretion. The windows may be a bit drafty, but these panes of blue have a view of the world that is, quite frankly, priceless. It’s not always lonely. I have managed to make a few friends out here. Slumpy though, he’s the best of the bunch. He’s a bit slow-witted most days, but a kinder person you will never meet.
“Blue's Moon, keep on a shinin'-“
“Blue,” Slumpy yelled, “What, in the name of God, are you doin?”
“With your pants around your knees and your rear-end pressed against the window?”
“Well, yes. Pants up or pants down, my vocal cords seem to work just fine.”
“That's all good, but Harrry gonna get awful mad and call the cops on ya again. And you might offend the customers.”
“Offend? It's an adult store, Slump. Have you seen some of the stuff they're sellin' in there? My ass pressed against the window is like a trip to Sunday school. Besides, Harry been tellin' me to move my ass all morning, so, it's a movin'."
“But, Blue, what if he throws that big ol' lawn dart at ya?”
“Trust me, my friend, that was not a lawn dart. But you do bring up a valid point. Don’t need that thing being slung at me with my backside exposed. Anyway, I got an idea.”
I pulled up my britches and began rummaging through my carry-all. I found what I was looking for and turned to my newspaper-covered friend. “You had your morning coffee yet, Slump?”
“Blue, you know I don't drink... wait a minute... that's your coffee tin.”
“Yup. I replied.”
“That's your coffee savings tin.”
“Uh-huh. Chock full! Been saving up for three months. I gave my tin a little rattle to get Slumpy in gear. I was thinking about one last go around before I head up town.”
“You mean... “
“Yup, penny slots. Me and you, Slumpster. Let's see what we can do.”
“Blue, you the best friend I ever had. Let's do it.”
It took the two of us awhile to stow our things behind the dumpster and then make our way down to Main St. Slump tended to walk as slow as he thought. Still, in less than two hours, we were having a grand time playing penny slots. It was our favorite past-time, albeit an expensive one. Do you have any idea how long it takes a bum to save enough pennies to make it worth while?
“Man, Blue. I have not won yet. Lady Luck just don't seem to be smilin' on me. I can't hit the jackpot, and my best bud is movin' uptown. Here I am, wastin' all your coin.”
“You aren’t wastin' anything, Slump, I invited you here. We’ll gather up all the loose stuff when we’re done. Now shush and pay attention. You gotta focus. You gotta want it. Hold the penny lightly and rub a little love into before you let it go.”
Slumpy rubbed the penny between his finger and thumb a little and then released it.
“Gosh darnit, Blue.”
“C'mon, do it again. We ain't leavin' until you get a winner, I don't care if it takes me til next week to get to Willow Park. Now get another penny and do what I said. This time, try closing your eyes and thinking about the win.”
Slump grabbed a penny.
Slump closed his eyes.
Slump rubbed the penny between his finger and thumb.
He opened his eyes, gently flicked his wrist and let the penny go . . .
“WHAT-THE-HELL?” yelled a guy in flannel as he whirled around.
“Bingo, Blue! I got one!”
“Shut up, Slump, before you get us caught.”
“Blue, that's my first ever slot-slider.”
“Hey, you.” Flannel Guy again. “Was that you? What the hell did you throw at me?”
“Throw?”I yelled back. “Shit, that was a contribution.”
“A contribution? To what?”
“To the buy-yourself-a-damn-belt fund. We're bums and we both got one. Not all of us are addicted to crack, pull them drawers up!”
“You're about to be homeless and toothless you son-of-a-”
“Run like the wind, Slump!”
We both sprang up and high-tailed it, hoping Flannel Boy would have to dig the penny out of his crack before he could run comfortably. I could hear my best friend yellin' all the way back to his bench.
“Jackpot, Blue. I got me a slot-slider!”
I was sure gonna miss the little guy.