Very very frightening

San Francisco was sound asleep, and I wished I was. Instead I was wide awake. Again. I've been sleeping so crappy the past few nights. 

And it was hot and stuffy. I opened the window to get some air, admiring the view of the dumpster below. Almost directly below. I've trash-bombed the dumpster sometimes, when they've left the lid up. If I arc my toss just right, and if whatever I'm dropping is heavy enough it doesn't blow away, I can dumpster drop from here. The lid of the dumpster is usually down, though, and it's down now.

Couldn't sleep, so I just stared out the window. It's not a picture post card: mostly you can see the windows of another rez hotel across the alley, the dumpster and concrete three floors below, and about ten feet of a street that's barely a street. It's just a bigger alley, that connects to the smaller alley under my window. At the driveway where the two alleys meet, there was either a corpse or a drunk sprawled out on the asphalt.

For a few minutes, I watched that body lying there, to see if it would move or twitch, and it didn't. At least not that I could tell. Dead or alive? Or soon to be dead — it's a stupid place to sleep, smack-dab in the middle of the alley, where the truck will come when it's time to empty the dumpster. And that would be soon, around sunrise. I know, cuz the ruckus reliably wakes me every time. It was sure gonna wake that guy down there — and flatten him, if he didn't move and the truck driver didn't see him.

Should I have hollered at him? "Hey, fucker, sleep on the sidewalk, not the driveway!" Nah, that would wake up everyone in both rez hotels. Should I have gotten dressed, gone down the stairs, and tried talking to him? Nah, too much hassle, and if he's alive he'd punch me, and if he's dead there'd be a cop asking me who and why and what's my blood type.

There was a third alternative, though, quieter and lazier. I filled a couple of zip-lock sandwich bags with water, and aimed at the ground near the bum or his dead body, as a wake-up call. Like a giant beanbag toss.

It was a tricky angle from my window. It's physics or geometry, which I was never good at, and it's athletics, which I was also never good at. Launched my first waterbaggie, and it took longer than you'd expect in flight, a gracious, leisurely curve through the air, and then it bounced off the wall of the other rez hotel, and disintegrated. That's why I'd filled two, though. My second toss was more accurate, and splattered maybe ten feet from that guy. He sat up, looked around, and flipped off the world, but then he moved himself closer to the wall, instead of right in the middle of the driveway, and laid down again.

To be clear, it was not my intent to drench the man, only to wake him.

Mission accomplished. I'd done a good deed, albeit using asshole methodology. Then he went back to sleep, and I remained wide awake. I showered, with no competition for the hot water at 5 in the morning. Then I read a zine, and looked out the window at that bum again, still down there. 

You know, a lotta things suck about my life, but I am not passed out drunk in an alleyway. Not yet anyway.

♦ ♦ ♦

At work, Beatrice and I agreed that we're going for a beer Thursday night. It could be fun, I suppose. I’ll try to sparkle. Gotta try to get a good night's sleep tonight and tomorrow night. We'll go to a bar, and I'll probably sit there and look stupid and dribble something on my shirt.

Also at work, the Tuesday pile of papers arrived at 12:30, and we got it all organized and input by 5:00. That's great, not because I care, but because it means some angry executive won't call tomorrow.

♦ ♦ ♦

Hey, it's early in the evening and we’re having a big, loud thunderstorm out the window. It’s been raining like Niagara, turning to hail now, and the thunderclaps that were in the distance aren’t so distant any more. There's a blast of light, and then almost immediately a blast of sound. If I remember the science right, that means the lightning strike was two blocks from here.

That bum I woke up with a waterbomb this morning ... I hope he's someplace dry.

Boom again, thunderbolts and lightning. Well, I can’t afford a new typewriter if an electric spike fries this one, so it’s time to shut down for the evening, unplug it, turn in and try to sleep. Toodles until tomorrow. Boom again!

From Pathetic Life #5
Tuesday, October 4, 1994

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.


Pathetic Life 

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  1. You weren't aiming at him but he didn't know that. :)

    1. Sadly yup. The homeless are often targeted. Not sure whether I knew that then.

  2. I'm gonna confess something medium awful. I once pissed out the window of the Crown, right onto Valencia Street, on all the hipsters. Only once. I also once took mustard and ketchup bottles and squirted those out over the crowd, but hard enough that it likely just hit whatever car was parked illegally below.

    I'm not proud of these things, but your anecdote reminded me.

    1. Go ahead and be proud.

      I don't remember Valencia Street as being all that hipster, but I'm sure it got annoying sometimes.


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