Hardly Like There's an Audience
Joel Pomerantz


  reactions • suggestions • comments

I come-to trying to force myself to stop, clear the mind, think back and recount where I had slept the previous few nights. I've lost count. I feel ashamed. I had promised myself that I am different. I can quickly deal with the physical needs of being on the street and find a safe place to stay

but here I am, days passing, still skirting homes and lives Pause—escape the thought, oh this is hard finding momentary recluse to evaporate from my troubles, cloud my mind, block thoughts from passing.

Here I am still lurking in people's peripheral vision, starting at every glance. Do they see me? Will they call the police? Are they going about their business or agitatedly and conspicuously ignoring me?

But now that question I must answer. I have been stalling too long. First I stall in my plan. Now I stall even in counting how far behind my plan is. what's it been since I've been on the street? four? five days? Somehow that blocks my thinking again and I get all fogged over. With some struggle I can clear my mind just enough to admonish myself. you must not let this slip further Four seems right. That's probably it. Wait—no it's been more. Damn, why can't I get it clear in my mind? I'll force myself to count the days. But it slips again.

No, wait. I can remember those steps I slept on last night so that's one. And the night before that the place with all the bright light...oh no! Shit shit shit maybe it was last night I was there—why didn't I get around to hauling my stuff out to the Avenues where I know of a few out-of-the-way partially-abandoned buildings I can stay in awhile without being known of.

Panic sets in. Now I doubt that it's been only a few days. I can't even recount two with any certainty, and every time I try, the shame and pain flows in and soaks me. Oh, it's too much. Why did I let this happen? I'm losing even my ability to think. Maybe it would be best for me to just lie down here, in the middle of the sidewalk and let people trip over me. At least I'll exist for someone.

Now it's evening and I'm on this ivy sitting-wall, furtively hoping not to be noticed or bothered so that I might not have to gather all my things from their various hiding places and pack them up and drag them off to some other place where I won't have the energy or the daylight to explore properly before I am tugged by my own repentant daze into sleep. Hate camping in a place I haven't explored. Gotta know the area, the comings and goings, the surprises. Don't wanna repeat that experience on the little alley lawn that turned out to have 3 a.m. automatic sprinklers. Damn, was that a mess. Don't wanna repeat the crack house thing, either. They had no idea why I was in their bushes—how could they have known it was chance, not the need for drugs that brought me there?

Why don't I just get out to that fucking abandoned lot I saw. Nobody ever goes there. I'd be fine there. I could keep a little cleaner there and set my stuff up a little more there, so I'd have more time each day to go looking for some work. Well, first some clothes. Dammit I know of that place where the kids put out their free clothes at the end of the semester. I think I missed it though. Fuck fuck again fuck I must have been out here a lot longer than a few days. There comes the cloud again. My face is wet. Why am I letting this happen?

I drift off. Now some new clarity in a schoolyard where pre-teens are coming and going. After-school sports, I think. I'm not getting much noticed as I help myself to a little buffet picnic food at tables along the driveway. Nobody seems to mind. A couple kids even seem to welcome me as they walk by. I wonder where they're headed. Looks like there's some practice going on back there behind the building. Calisthenics? No, they're setting up chairs. Oh here come those same kids again. They're walking right toward me. A hand gently on my arm.

Hmm? Me? Yeah, sure, I can talk. whaddaya think, I'm deaf? I mean dumb? Oh, to them!? Talk to them. Well, yeah, I think so. I can say anything? I do have a few things to say. Okay, in ten minutes. I'll be there.

That's odd but I'm willing. Lord knows I have a few things to say. Hey I'm not gonna be the person they think I am either. Though who knows what they think—I'm dressed pretty spiffy today. No holes and only a little grungy. Oh. A mike? That's the mike I'm supposed to use? I can talk now? Okay. 'Cause I do have some things to say, yes I do. Hardly like there's an audience though, just these four kids who talked to me. Well, maybe after I start speaking, these people scattered around will glance up and take some interest. What was I gonna say again?

I don't remember what town that was, the kids, the buffet. I guess it doesn't matter anymore. I'm in a ramble between-towns now. On the road. I like it on the road, especially these small, scenic, straight country two-laners. I'm driving in a car. I don't care that I've missed a few signs. I don't know what town I'm going to, anyway. But I sure am glad to have got this car. Really simplifies things, really does.

that meal last night was weird. the guy asked us all in and said we'd each have a chance to share some inspiration. but that inspirationless silent guy with the headset dominated the whole thing. just didn't know how to shut up. Rudy even told him he was an asshole to his face and he didn't even hear. just went right on talking. well, really half-singing, half-talking

Y'know it's a lot more comfortable sitting sideways up against the door like this. I can relax and think better. Just gotta keep an eye on the road. Whoa! especially when it suddely goes curvy on me like this. Can't just lay back and let the car take me along, like on the straights. but the funny part was when we turned down his volume switch and for the first time, he suddenly came-to and noticed us. Calmly not even viscious, turned it back up again. Weird. I think it was gonna blow soon. I'm glad to get out of that place

Is that where I got this car? I can't remember exactly. Shit I hate that when I can't clearly recall. Oh my god! That was almost a head-on! I've gotta keep my eye on the road. I guess those trucks can go around me. Who cares anyway? The other cars look like toys. I'll just run over them if they're in the way. Now where was I? This sitting sideways sure is comfy. Mmm another car passing on the wrong side of me. Hmmm. Damn careless drivers. Hmm.

  reactions • suggestions • comments