A library is the place that fills up as the shelters empty out. A place to spend when you have no money and nothing but time. Everyone knows it's the homeless who wear the best tans. What they don't know is that we are also the most well read.
I see them trek along the hopeful asphalt sculpture of a parking lot...always empty and even if it were to be filled, the place would be jammed with all of them squirming and bellowing and out of air...a real fire hazard. The thought wouldn't have occurred to the surveyors, or to those who paid for it. They are drunk on hope, all of them. It's why they bring their children here. Their sanctuary. It's why they want us out.
We come from behind the dumpsters in alleyways, from rusted orange vans with cotton sheets stapled to the upholstery. We come from behind the bushes and the fast-food bathrooms. From the gas station parking lots and the freeway on-ramps and under the bridges. We are over and under and in front and behind of everything and everyone. We come from the cradle.
In the library, the lines are dividing. the newspapers say so.
We are the scum. Check that! Pedophilic scum.
The truth is that we would sooner eat their children than stick a finger up their asses.
The mothers are imagining worse. I assure you. Few have the vile imagination to match that of a fearful parent, and there are many of them. Imagine their naughty thoughts...
The computer room...the adult computer room, is set back behind the media room, the non-fiction, then the heath foods, and self-help sections. Then come the maps and the photography. The closer you get to the fiction the closer you get to the children's section. No surprise. There, colorful banners swirl along the walls like screaming butterflies
They are safe there: a hundred feet from the adult wing. But it isn't enough.
That's what the paper says.
It's what we do most of the day, read the paper.
There are a few of us regulars. The man with the dirty white beard sits across from me as always, with one soggy sneaker resting on one soggy thigh. And it is true...I can smell his wrinkled wet toes.
It's such smells, among other things, that the papers are calling "offensive."
I wouldn't call them pleasant.
Yes, we read, and we read, and read, and read. And while it isn't rare for us to make the front page of the metro, it usually isn't with regard to our little daytime hideaways. So this really is an occasion!
Anyway, they want us out.
I don't know where to.
They are the ones with the means, that's for sure. They can have the book stores! (Of course we go there too. Regular scholars we are!) If you ask me, it's a bit of irony that the supposed sanctuary be reserved for those who are in need of no such a thing.
They do have one law here and it isn't a bad one.
They allow us to set up camp on the sidewalks and street corners for the night. They "recognize the need for shelter." But by morning we have to pack it up. We get overnight solace so long as we make ourselves unseen in the light. It is our half of the bargain and we are good at fulfilling it. We hide well.
Me? I'm not so bad.
In the morning I wake up, pull the nail cutters out from under the pillow, slip to my ass, and carve another notch into the upholstery above my head, next to the window. Another night... I never count them up and don't suppose that I ever will. The worst thing of all is to recognize your own endurance in such situations. But I'm am no slouch! I do my job. I hide well! I never stray to the colorful side of this place, nor do i raise my head from behind this newspaper. No slouch here!
Oh! It sounds grandiose, but hate comes with love. Men do it with violence and women do it to. They know their violence well. All it takes is a little darling child of their own and they will call torture for the nearest threat wherever they smell one. Not in spite of, but in support of their love. Remember that they are dogs as we are dogs, and a dog will flock to the nearest stinking pair of feet as soon as the fumes waft. And no, you can't stuff that stink behind a newspaper.
"Offensive," it says of our smells.
Do you believe it!? I find their white socks offensive along with the rest of their pompous rags and their under-arms, their nightmares and fantasies reflecting off of me with the sunlight as soon as i am out of the car.
Me and the dirty-bearded, old man sitting next to me reading the newspaper. Some threat.
One dog smells another and the herd readies to pounce. No secret. They have it in for their neighbors as well. And others on. I am only here to remind them that they smell as well. And now I need to find a new place to spend my afternoons.
Kurt says: "I was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1981. I have no wife and no child. I am a Midwestern writer regardless of where I live. I currently reside in my car."