Thursday, January 5, 2012

Truth and Cigs 02

PED: I want to know what no one will tell me. I want the pure truth from you on every question I ask.

HOM: (looks at cig mulls over the proposal) Ok, but you have to answer my questions too.

PED: I gave you cigarettes.

HOM: I’d give you cigarettes too but (shakes the change cup) I can’t. You have more to give and fair’s fair even if it ain’t fair.

PED: (pause) fine. My first question is what did you want to be when you were young?

HOM: (looks at PED skeptically; pauses, and decides on it) I wanted to be a pilot. I love flying. I wanted to be a pilot.

PED: How did you end up here?

HOM: I was a pilot. I was a pilot in the air force. I flew helicopters. After I got out of the service there were no jobs and no one wanted a helicopter pilot with a bum leg and PTSD. They told me I wouldn’t be on the frontlines. In a war like that there are no frontlines.

PED: What about family?

HOM: I’m damaged goods. My family couldn’t keep supporting me; the economy hurt them too. I left because I didn’t want to keep being a burden. I didn’t want to keep everyone up with my night terrors and then not limp from door to door trying to find a job.

PED: You left because you wanted to?

HOM: I left because I had to. At first I stayed in cheap motels and looked for jobs wherever I went. Those were back in the days when people would pick me up because I still looked half-way decent. By the time I got here I knew it was going to be my last stop.

PED: So now.

HOM: (takes a drag) now I sleep with a couple of buddies I’ve made under the overpass. I have a worn rain slicker from my service days that I still wear when it rains. I have more cardboard signs than dollars, and I try to keep my dignity when I beg passersby for money.

PED: What’s--

HOM: Hold on, I get to ask a few questions.

PED: (suddenly shy) Oh, yeah.

HOM: You ever had sex?

PED: No. I haven’t even dated anyone. I can’t tell if anyone would even find me attractive. I don’t look like the movie stars and I don’t have any outstanding qualities. I feel like a face in the crowd.

HOM: Sad, but I don’t feel sorry for you. I’ve had sex. I’ve paid for it and I’ve found it in the dirtiest places. Humanity is ugly kid. Sex is an awful thing. I’ve heard sex from strung out junkies near dumpsters. Once when I was sleeping in a public restroom two men came in and started having sex in the stall next to me. The cops caught them and they were hauled off. All for sex.

PED: Is it worth it?

HOM: Let me put it this way. When you are old enough to drink, look for the young girls that are carried out of a bar because some dick has roofied their drinks. To those men it is worth sacrificing their morals and dignity. I’ve seen it happen. But I’m just the guy trying to sleep on the bench; no one thinks I care.

PED: do you care?

HOM: Not sure, I’ve had sex with fat ugly hookers. I beg for pennies in the cold all day. I eat from the trash.

PED: (long pause) What do you think of me?

HOM: I think you are young. I think you are shallow. I think that you are stuck in a world I don’t care about. Text messaging; smart phones; big business; climbing ladders; going to college. I’ve lost all that stuff.

PED: You said you’d be honest.

HOM: I did say I’d be honest. I think you, you have balls. You look naive but at least you seem to give two shits. I spend most of my day just trying to make eye contact with passersby. No one makes eye contact. I want to yell liar at everyone who says they can’t give me spare change. They have change. You have change. And I have very little. So give it to me. I served this country. I’m a person.

PED: I gave you cigarettes.

HOM: They aren’t menthols. Don’t act holier than thou because you gave me something that will kill me faster.

PED: What do you want then?

HOM: I don’t want cigarettes, I don’t want money, I don’t want your god damn handouts. I want to feel safe again. I want to be warm and comfortable. I want to stop hanging my head in shame. Yeah? What the hell do you want?

PED: (really long pause) I’m sorry. I wanted the truth.

HOM: No one gets the truth. No one knows it. Maybe I never served in the military; maybe I killed my whole family by strangling them in their sleep. Maybe you are 20 and a nymphomaniac pedophile. The truth is just the same lie we tell ourselves every day.

PED: but--

HOM: don’t argue kid. I sold my soul to you for a lousy pack of cigs.