the shelter, where once again I hung out with my buddy C.
My darlin' companion and I work our shift together and he tells me that C's only around when I'm around, so I feel a special responsibility not to be an asshat when he goes bat shit crazy on me.
Which he does with frightening regularity.
It always starts out well: he reminds me of my friend S, who's deep into alt music and esoteric jazz and whose mixed tape UFOs are Real remains my one of my favorite road tapes of all time.
Reminds me at first. But soon, all bets are off.
I'm getting better at steering the conversation: when I see it go south I introduce a snippet from whatever I'm reading, ask him what he thinks about it; or ask him what he's reading, and what he thinks about that.
I can't ask him what he's been up to: that's asking for trouble. Because then I hear about the legions who are conspiring against him, punishing him for something he did a long time ago that dare not be named.
Last night we swapped notes on Albuquerque, where I'll be headed soon and where he lived for awhile, and where I learned about his time in jail, about how his family and the police of his home town arranged to unravel things for him there, even from that far distance.
There's nothing he can do, he tells me, because they told him: "You shall have no peace and no rest for as long as you shall live." He can't work (they sabotage the machinery), he can't escape to another place (they follow him), he can't even sleep through the night (they plant people all around him -- noisy, snoring people who talk in their sleep).
And so he does nothing.
When we first met and had these talks I tried to be all Dr. Phil and talk him through it. Learned really quickly that I am not Dr. Phil, and the American Pharmacological society doesn't have it all wrong.
Meds. Now. Please.
The thing that breaks my heart when he starts his spiraling descent is his conviction that everyone spends their time thinking about him -- about how to undo him, how to upend his efforts, how to force him into poverty and misery and homelessness. Everyone. All the time.
The thing that breaks my heart is knowing that -- as a homeless man in our America -- the truth is that no one thinks of him much at all.