Wednesday, June 02, 2004

The donut shop was the only place in my suburban town that was open twenty-four hours. Sometimes Tony, Chris, and I would end up there anyway because we all had no cars and little money to do anything anyway. We could smoke, talk, laugh or end up bored with the boring boredom and leave to go sit bored at the boring park. It would suck whenever they had to go home because that would mean I’d have to entertain myself. Which is okay for the first couple of hours, but then you start to go crazy knowing that you wont be able to see anyone until at least eleven am or by noon. They had homes with parents. Warm beds. Showers. Music, TV, etc. I had a yellow-tinted 24-hour donut shop with distant Mexican music playing in the background.

All of the pictures were faded. Donuts and croissants. I used to laugh at the one that described their croissants as creamery and buttery. Creamery? I still don’t know if that’s really a word.

I would start reading the paper at about two or three in the morning. Making it last, reading every inch and every word of that newspaper except for the classifieds, sports, and opinion sections. I would write a lot in notebooks. Nobody would mistake me for a fledgling screenwriter or a young insomniac putting down The Great American Novel because they don’t have backpacks. I don’t know, maybe they do.

Occasionally people would come in. Usually to buy smokes. The guy who worked there and couldn’t speak much English was cool and never kicked me out because I’d been buying cigarettes there since I was fourteen and always bought a coke and a creamery ham and cheese croissant. It was the only item that they had that had actual food in it and not a bunch of sickeningly sweet shit. Donuts are like candy. If I want candy, I’ll eat it. Blagh. I needed to eat somehow. So when I die of a heart attack by the age of thirty – you know whom to blame.

One time a good friend of mine that I hadn’t seen since we graduated high school came in. She gave me a big old hug and asked me a bunch of questions about what I’d been doing since we graduated, what was I doing here, etc? I must’ve looked like I was on drugs because I felt uncomfortable and my eyes kept on darting around looking for an escape. I didn’t want her to know that I was homeless. Even though she was a friend, I didn’t want anybody to know that my father had kicked me out right after I graduated and by the time that my senior class was taking Tequila shots in Mexico, I was dodging cockroaches and sleeping in Elementary schools. I lied and told her that I was waiting for Tony to come home from a party and that I should leave. She offered me a ride but I didn’t take it because then I would have to let her drop me off in front Tony’s house and then have to pretend to go up to the door and then wait for her to leave. Fuck all of that. Last thing that I remember was her looking at me confused and concerned as she drove away.

I walked around the block, smoked a cigarette and then came back to the donut store. I had to buy another coke too because I had thrown out my last one to make it look like I was leaving.

There were only a small handful of homeless people in the town that I lived in. I knew them all by sight and some I used to give money to when I was in high school. After I got kicked out, I always used to see the Vietnam vet guy sleeping at one of the elementary schools that I did. He was nice. I used to buy him a coke and a small bag of chips every time I saw him outside of the Blockbuster Video. When I was sleeping at the school, he was always cool to me and I never thought that he’d try to fuck me up or steal my shit. That still didn’t keep me from wrapping the straps of my backpack around my arms though. I learned that trick on Greyhound bus trips. I had a wallet with a chain on it too. I used to shorten the length of it so that nobody could try to unlatch it without me feeling it.

The one that I saw the most was the big fat guy. He was fat fat. Really fat. He looked Hawaiian or something, maybe in his forties, and wore shorts, a t-shirt and flip-flops all the time. I would always see him leaning against a shopping cart and strolling along like that. Like his weight was too heavy for him to bear and that he needed help. One time he asked me to buy him a bottle of cherry brandy. I told him how young I was. He said that it was only four bucks. I told him again how old I was. He acted disgusted at me. Whatever. Anyway he was fucking huge. Sometimes he would come into the donut shop too. He’d buy a coffee and would start to nod off. He snored. Sometimes I would have to wake him up because the cigarette in between his fingers would look like it was going to drop on the floor or burn his fingers. Sometimes he’d knock over his coffee and the donut guy would kick him out.

The fat homeless guy would talk to me sometimes. I tried not to speak to anybody because It’s hard to be in a place that’s your last resort and to engage in a conversation that you’re not interested in because you don’t really have an escape route if you have no where else to go.

I remember that he said that he grew up next to Hank Ketchum and used to play with him. He was the guy who created the Dennis The Menace comic strip. Hank Ketchum – not the fat guy. Maybe he was bullshitting. He used to tell me all kind of stories in between his bouts of narcoleptic sleep. I drew pictures of him sometimes in my notebook. One time I left early because he noticed that my shoes had silver duct tape wrapped around them. He started laughing hysterically and pointing at my shoes. My face burned red. I tried to explain to him that I usually did that to my shoes because of skateboarding, but he was too busy laughing/choking. Tears rolled down his big, red cheeks and he kept on pointing at my shoes. So I gathered my shit up and then slept in the park.

It all sucked. I hated that fucking place but was grateful for it’s existence. I hated my life. I hated when the sun came out and the occasional passing car became a constant drone because then more people started to come in before work. Then I would leave. Too crowded. Too loud. Too many people looking at me. Too many people going and doing things. Nobody knew or cared who the hell I was and that was how I liked to keep it. By that time I could maybe wait for Carls Jr. to open and then I could grab a burger or some fries. I stretched that out too. I had nothing to read because I didn’t want to read the paper. I would have to save that for the night. If I was lucky I could maybe watch a little TV. I wish that they’d had a TV in the donut shop - that would’ve made it easier. I’d waste an hour or two at Carls and then go to the park for a quick nap. Tony was in continuation school and would get home at noon, maybe at 1 p.m. if he was smoking pot with somebody. Then I would get to use his shower, maybe change my clothes. Try not to bug him or his parents too much because I might get to spend the night there on the weekends. I stayed there for a couple weeks once until his father asked me what my plans were – so I left. And I didn’t want to do that to Tony or Chris because it was hard enough for them to live with their parents, they didn’t need me to put a strain on all of that shit. Anyways, people’s parents like you a lot better the less they see you. Trust me on this.

And if there was a point to this story - I’ve forgotten it. I originally wanted to tell you about the fat man, but the retarded translation really doesn’t do it justice unless you get to see how huge he was. I wasn't trying to whine either – but if it sounds like it and you don’t like it – then you have my permission to leave, nerd/loser. Don’t ever come back. I wrote this story last week and then forgot about it. I have to fire up the barbecue now. Grilled Mahi Mahi is more important.

I hate donuts.


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