You don’t know what they can do to you. You don’t know until you’ve been on the outs, in the cold weary weather where even the other bums turn the shoulder and the salvation army bed starts reeking of piss and self-righteousness so bad you think you’re gonna get religion if you stay there. The religious ones are the worst, I mean the absolute shits. The crazy crazy bums who got religion and who moon around talking about God and the stars and the prophecies they come to fulfill, and then the religious helpers. They do it all in Jesus’ name. Ask in My Name, He said, well then then why the hell didn’t I get a beer when I asked? And a nice house and a hot wife? Or even a spot under the bridge out of the rain? And they show up on Thanksgiving and Christmas, these meek fat white people, ladling out soup and pity, well they smell so goddam good because they got showers in their houses and if I didn’t have to wear everything just to stay warm, I’d wash my clothes every once in awhile too.
Then there’s that other thing he said. Jesus. The poor you will have with you always. Ain’t that the truth. As long as there’s shitheels, there’s gotta be people to be the turds. And won’t nobody turn their head and look twice if you’re cold and hungry or need smoke, but they get you in the hospital and its all you can do to get away. We have to make sure you’re stable, they say. I ain’t been stable for 14 years, and you’re gonna fix that with IVs and a heart monitor? Like hell.
You don’t even know what they can do. They can tie you down and shoot you up and not even read your Miranda. You say one thing about leaving the goddam hospital and that little nurse so tiny you could break her in half says, well, I’ll call the cops. She will too. Cops’ll hold you down and it’s all good with the law. I don’t even think they make laws about the hospital.
Three times I woke up with a tube in my mouth and almost choked to death. That 19 year old doctor told me I had seizures. Bullshit. I never had no seizures. Not me, not never. They just wanted to clear me offa the street and when I said no, I’m good on the street they beat me up. Got the scars to prove it. Course it’s my word against theirs, those blue shirts. Those tough guys with their big bellies and their scissors, ruining all my clothes, shooting me up and putting me to sleep. Then I wake up and they tell me I had seizures.
It’s a warm place to sleep, though. There’s food. But they don’t give you no choice, that’s what gets me. And when I’m done sitting inside, laying in bed like a lazy bones, I gotta be out on my own terms. Back to my turf. Back to my place. Cuz you don’t know the things they can do to you.
I know it’s cold outside. I know the places where the rain falls sideways and the snow’ll be your blanket when you wake up in the morning, if you wake up, and I know the reek of desperation. It’s inhospitable. Ain’t that a two dollar word. But at least it’s not hospital. The hospital’s warm and dry and the meals come regular but when I gets to feeling restless, start to missing the love of my life and my constant mistress, the bottle of Grants I left in the pile of gravel at the corner of State Street, I can’t get out. It ain’t a hospital, it’s a goddam prison. I can’t help it that I said f- you to the nurse and I dumped everything offa the table onto the floor and it made such a noise, I needed out, and then the guards came and yelled at me, and I heard the little nurse bitching about next time he has a seizure, he should make sure he has it where no one will find him. You’re welcome for saving your life! Well the problem is I didn’t have no goddam seizure, I got beat up by the cops what didn’t want me on the street. Cleaning up for some operation, something they didn’t want no witness to.
I’m back outside now. Frozen and free. I gotta hot date with a lady who warms me up like no other. Left her hidden on the corner of State Street.