Tired, hungry, sick and disconnected I went on an after hours hunt for food. These places were easy to spot, despite your state of mind, in the midst of new construction and parking lots stood a few, gothic style Catholic churches. The few places in the city which still leaves out bags of non-perishable food for the needy, and at that moment – I was needy. Although my needs were about to be superseded by a wild-card as I approached the closest church where I heard it before I saw it in the styling of Cypress Hill’s, Insane in the Brain,

Cocaine in the membrane, I got cocaine on the brain!

The veterans on the roof, for a while, began to even out and almost relax around me. About an hour and fifteen minutes into the dabs, then the standard pot as two pipes made their passes. This was topped off with a heavy indulgence of warm, canned Natural Light beer. I partook in the beers, as the pot would have made me incoherent and lackadaisical. I was working after all, and if I can do one thing, I can handle my booze. Although I would need to eat soon, but I was the only one waiting for breakfast now turned lunchtime. I rested on hope for my half loaf of bread that I passed off for sandwiches, which would never arrive.

Without Regards for Society

Between the beers I listened as they spoke at me, only Martins spoke to me. According to Martins, there was nothing worth worrying about this life that they have chosen. He had, “Turned back to time to the good old days,” or whatever that meant to him. Even so, he was the strangest case of the bunch, as he would sometimes speak with the confidence of a Non-Commissioned Officer. Then without warning, he would get lost in his thoughts, become sheepish, and fade out for a bit before returning to something near the point his was making. I still cannot quite put my finger on exactly what was the cause of that, beyond speculation. It may have been the war or a parasite – I didn’t have the means to diagnosis him.

We had been on the roof well into the afternoon, and as time passed so did the crowd who seemed to wander in a rotation. The conversations picked up and just as easily would drone off, as we competed against the sounds from the Interstate, railyard, and recycling plants. From the noise of their disjointed voices, I collected as many details as I could. My stomach churned against the NatiLight, now replaced by some kind of terrible red table wine and a few plastic pints of Jim Beam entered the show to make their way around a communal circle of rooftop day drinking.

As my stomach grumbled from my bagged wine breakfast, followed by an increasing flow of cheap booze. I then looked around and realized that I was the only one with any meat on my bones. This enclave of Homeless Veterans and Railway Kids were rockstar skinny, and VH1 Behind the Music, beaten and battered from living within the homeless scene. It was something I missed earlier as the sun finally parted through the clouds. The sunlight really exposed the layers of filth and hard living. No one here was healthy or remotely clean except for me. I hoped they wouldn’t notice.

The Well Financed Career Path of the Homeless Hustler

I sat and listened as I was now being preached to, in what seemed to be an offset competition of storytelling and bragging. Things were starting to make a little more sense, asides the materials that they had collected from friends, family, and scrounging they were playing the system to facilitate their lifestyle. I won’t contest their earned income from Veterans Affairs Compensation and Pension for the veterans, but they were also running a nationwide welfare racket.

The competition reached a pinnacle of excitement and pride in craft and accomplishment as a near tribal element of storytelling erupted with laughs and high fives. Their voices carrying over one another in an excess of varying places , people, and their varying misadventures. The points I collected from the way they laid it out, was that were all essentially lost in life for one reason or another, and in an act of happenstance found one another.