This is my semi-lucid recollection of an event that I decided to finally cut loose from my mind and onto the Interweb. I have no idea why there is a picture of teens eating fondue up there, but it seems like they’re supposed to be there. Deal with it, yo.
Back when I was homeless, I met this bizarre cat named Jim.
We would see each other in the middle of the night, as we were both wandering aimlessly in the same neighborhood – it’s not like you’d want to wander around during the daylight hours as a homeless person in Phoenix – you’d fucking melt in a nanosecond. So, the wandering and thinking shit would go down well after dusk.
It seemed as though we both had come to the realization that being homeless really sucked, but it could be a bit better if you hung out in a neighborhood that had a higher property tax rate than the others. I had also seen him once before, at the VA, checking out the job posting board they had there in the free clinic.
Jim was totally fascinating to watch, because he would walk around in these grid patterns that had no discernible logic to them, but for some reason he kept to them. I spent an entire night following him at a pretty long distance once, and it was an interesting thing to behold – this guy was cutting the neighborhood up into three block grids that he would work. He would start on one street, and make an outline of the area he was going to walk, and then he would zig-zag his way right into the middle of it. Once he’d reached the middle, he would walk over to another grid five blocks away and start all over again, like he was zeroing in on something very important.
It took Jim about a week to totally throw me for a loop and just randomly come over and sit at the bench I had claimed as my own in the park we both frequented.
This is the actual bench I called home, in Los Olivos Park – I kid you not.
“I know you’re following me, Tattoo Guy – but if you’re going to kill me you’re gonna need some fucking help, because I was in ‘Nam, and I’ll fucking cut your dick off when you sleep and eat it.”
I didn’t really know how to respond, so I just offered him a smoke and shook his hand, which seemed to calm him down a bit.
After we kind of sat there silently smoking for a minute or two, Jim decided to start telling me all about how he had been watching me for about a week, and about how I was walking some kind of grid pattern that reminded him of the Recon shit he did in Vietnam.
I figured it would have been in poor taste, not to mention disrespectful to my newfound elder, to mention that I had indeed been tracking him as well, so I let him ramble on about how easy it was for him to follow me. After listening to him for a few minutes, I came to the conclusion that if I was going to have to sit with this cat and listen to him all night, which was apparently the way things were unfolding before me, I was going to roll a joint. As I was pulling my stash out of my satchel, Jim started to bug out a bit – “IS THAT A GUN, ARE YOU GOING TO FUCKING SHOOT ME TATTOO GUY?!?!”
As soon as he realized it was a harmless bag of Mexican Dirtweed, he began snickering and muttering to himself. I also took my notebook out of my bag and sat it on top of the table in front of me, so that I could break the weed up on it and commence with the rolling action. But Jim decided at that moment to snatch it up and open it, telling me he had studied handwriting analysis, and was going to give me a normally expensive reading in exchange for me getting him high.
Within seconds of him staring at a page of my innermost hand-scribbled ramblings, he told me I had the remarkable penmanship of a serial killer.
That was tough for me to swallow, but the reefer was beginning to kick in at that point, so I just laughed it off and listened to this wizened old sage tell me all about my supposed penchant for killing young girls with large breasts. Jim took a pull or two off the joint I handed him, let out a huge sigh and then said the following:
“I love it when young girls eat bananas in front of me – it makes my old shriveled up cock stand on his head!”
I couldn’t really say anything to that one – I mean, what do you say to something like that? I was high as fuck, sitting at a park bench with a lunatic who had just told me I had the handwriting of a serial killer (who liked to kill chesty girls, mind you), and I was easy to track.
Jim then decided to tell me that he was a diabetic, and that smoking reefer usually threw him into a deep insulin shock. He then produced his little vial of medicine and a syringe, and told me that in about five minutes I was going to have to give him his injection, either in the fatty tissue of his stomach – or on his rump.
Fuck me, this was getting annoying.
Sure enough, Jim started to loll around a bit in roughly five minutes’ time. His eyes got even glassier than the reefer had made them, and he started to break out into little beads of sweat all over his brow. This rumbling sound started happening in the back of his throat that sounded like “GAAAAAWANGAWWWWUHHHHHHHHH” – so I knew I probably had only a few seconds to spare before this old freak checked out on me, which would in turn mess up my nice little life in Los Olivos Park forever.
I grabbed Jim up and laid him flat on his back on top of the table, knocking everything off of it in the process. I had to scramble around underneath the table to find his rig and his medicine, but once I did, my shaky hands managed to juice that fucker up right good for the sticking. I certainly wasn’t going to take this fool’s pants off to stick him in the ass, so I tried to pinch a decent amount of belly skin and stuck him fast. I had some alcohol prep pads in my satchel that I used to use to wipe my face down when it was too hot out, so I tried to clean his face up and snap him out of it a bit.
I figured I’d pull his shoes off, so that more cool air was hitting his surface areas, and then came across the most disgusting and vile case of Jungle Rot I had ever seen. This motherfucker had probably been walking around like this since ‘Nam – open sores and all that bullshit probably compounded by his diabetes complications and his homelessness.
It was fucking brutal.
Jim started to come around a bit in a few minutes, which took away my anxiety that I had given him too much insulin and killed him. He sat up and pulled a Snickers out of his bag and ripped it open like a fucking rabid badger, tearing into it so fiercely that he had chocolate smeared all over his face like warpaint. In between biting and chewing, he started talking again:
“You know kid – *muchmunchslobberdroolmunch* – you kinda saved my ass tonight – *munchslobbermunch* – I owe you one. I got this friend. He owns a rub and tug joint up on Camelback. I’m pretty sure – *munchslobberwheeze* – I can get him to get one of his girls – *couchmunchdrool* – to give you a freebie. You wanna go get a handjob? Hell – I bet he can get one of them to blow you or lick your asshole if you can use their shower first – YOU SAVED MY FUCKING LIFE, TATTOO GUY!”
Again – what the fuck was I supposed to say to that?
I ended up getting off the streets a few weeks after that, but I still saw Jim around all over the place. And whenever I did, I always made sure to give him whatever smokes I had on me, some loose change, and every now and then I’d buy him a cup of coffee and sit and bullshit with him for a bit. By the time I left Phoenix to move back to The City, I hadn’t seen him in a while, so I figure he either got into an outreach program, or finally reached his expiration date.
Either way, I find myself thinking about Jim often when I am on the train – wondering how a cat like him would survive up here in The City.
He was wrong about me being a serial killer, damn it.