An Old Homeless Monologue
If mistakes were dollars, I’d still be filthy rich, instead of just filthy. A mistake Is dirty as a shadow and follows you around. I’ve got more shadows than I can scare away, and everyone of them looks counterfeit. I guess my whole life’s a mistake, but at least I’ve learned where it hurts.
I’ve loved others about as well as they’ve loved me. I used to be hopeful about my kind. Kind? Now there’s some irony to iron out. Now I think law, force, and guilt are the only reasons for charity. I’m only gums now–but those other kind that I used to smile at, their pearly white, perfect teeth bite hard. I wouldn’t hold out my hand.
Nothing dangerous or sharp about me now. I’d have to pinch you to death, but I can still get mad enough to try. Wipe that grin off your piehole!
Poor ol’ sour rag, nobody gives me a damn. They think I need snort money, but I’d settle for used gum, or even a frowning nod that I exist. Yet at my age desire has set hard as that gum or any wall that stops my passage to nowhere. Now, I’d say I don’t want anything, except something different. Truth is, I guess I want everything. That’s probably why I’m here in this scenic alley.
You’ll get a kick out of this. On school-day mornings I used to go to bus stops and steal lunch boxes. I’ve lost a lot of weight since then because I can’t run as fast.
Don’t look at me like that! I was nothing then. I had nothing but holes in my pockets. Now I’ve got shadows. Come to think of it, every shadow is ash, the child of greed.
Someone with really bad breath tried to steal from me the other night. He lifted the flaps of my cardboard mansion and started to frisk me for money, or at least I think that‘s what he was feeling for. I struck a match and burned the damn house down. I’m not sure if he was still in it.
He and I are more likely to be friends than you and me, boy. It’s easier for me to feel warm toward an enemy than someone I have to care for. The enemy is someone I’d invite for poker and find a way to make him play his credit card. So why does your momma let you hang around a trash barrel like me?
She’d hold her nose around me. But to my nose-hole, everything smells the same, and I don’t surprise myself anymore. You won’t catch me off-guard because I’m not trying to hide a bleeping thing.
You know, on casual Fridays I used to wear a designer noose with dollar signs around my neck, a green suit making a fine figure on Wall Street. I didn’t put much stock into those I stole from. Before those towers came all the way down, I was making calls to buy the lots at discount. Got Trumped, though.
No, I wasn’t a cynic in those days. I thought the gold-diggers smooching on me really loved my soul. Of course, I thought my soul was made of brand new money. I thought my dollars were worth more because I knew how to spend them. Some say it was the dollar that brought the towers down.
Well, it’s cold, and you’ve kept me long enough, boy. Time is money, and you’ve burned too much of it. I’m headin’ down to the tracks and the fire barrel. The people are warmer down there.
—first published inThe Medulla Review