His mind rarely ever thought back to who he had been, the same way he never pondered at who he had become. He needed to keep away from the past, if nothing but to keep whatever sense of sanity he had left. His homelessness was a choice, though a part of him knew that was but half correct.
Todd and he had become dear friends, two ‘ Men of the road’, even though the only roads they traveled were in this town. They shared everything from drugs to the mints that both of them devoured to keep their mouths from being desert dry. He only recently met Todd, perhaps six months ago, yet the two of them became like Mutt and Jeff. Each needed the other to help pass the day and night, for without someone to relate with, each may have gone crazy… If they weren’t already. It was always better to have two bumming cash or cigarettes. Sometimes when they couldn’t get to the hot food shelter the cash came in handy for a slice of pizza or sandwich at Publix. Of course, the most important aspect of being a duo was protection from other street people, the ones with less scruples. Sad to be out on the streets and have to worry about those in the same boat. Sad.
He didn’t wish to recollect just how long it had been since he was who is was now. That mindset only made matters worse. When he and Todd first met, they both took the time to bring each other up to snuff. Of course, the two of them knew that much of what they recalled to each other was half made up. Still, it helped to forge some sort of alliance. Todd was maybe ten years younger than him and looked ten years older. That was the oxy and fetanyl working to destroy his immune system and his need for proper diet. He too had used oxy and fetanyl at times, but his drug of choice was vaping THC and of course marijuana joints. The good news for him was that marijuana increased his appetite, so he always ate as much as he could… when he could.
The town had recently made it much more difficult for panhandlers. They had to seek out new places every day and evening, always aware of the cops. Some of the cops were pretty reasonable, despite the other ones who could be outright vicious. It was usually the ex military ones who seemed to have no patience for street people or The Homeless as many called them. If they could make it across the bridge to the beach area at night there was always room to bunk out until morning. If they were lucky they could hang out in the morning by the back of one of the hotels on the beach, bumming scraps from kitchen workers. Ham and eggs tasted good even when they were just thrown out in the trash. Food is food.
It was late in the morning one day when he and Todd had just left the beach and were approaching the 7/11 where many of their street compatriots hung out. The Mustang pulled into the parking lot just as they arrived. As the driver’s window went down he glanced at the young woman behind the wheel. She had this look on her face, a look that he would never forget, no matter how long he lived. ” Dad?” He just froze as Todd was pulling at him to keep moving to the door. ” Dad, that is you! Come here Dad, don’t walk away!” She was almost shouting but without the volume, as her voice went mute. ” Dad, where in the hell did you go Dad? We looked for you everywhere for over a year!” He could not stop the flood of water running from his eyes, as she too began to cry… uncontrollably. Todd yelled to him what the hell was going on! The young woman almost jumped from the car and began to hug him the way one hugs someone who just lost a loved one. He slowly placed his arms around her and sobbed along with her… seemingly forever.