Chicken Man

Posted: October 24, 2018 in Prose

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11 June 2012

The weather at noon today was ninety degrees and sunny. Typically, everyone was complaining about the heat. I met Serge sitting on the curb. We shook hands.

“How are you doing, Serge?”

“Not bad. I’m just drinking my lunch. The others are up top.” He was sipping from an innocent looking clear plastic water bottle that also contained rubbing alcohol.

“I’ll see you later, Serge.”

“See you.”

At the park were four of my friends.

Loretta said, “I’m sad today. It’s my birthday, I had to appear in court on an assault charge and I met my ex. We had a big fight right in the Courthouse. They think I may get jail time. I hope not.”

“Hey,” said Silver, “my birthday is coming up this month. What kind of present are you going to buy me, Outcast?”

“How be I give you a kick in the ass? My birthday was in January. What did you give me?”

“Well, could I have a smoke?”

“I’ll throw it over the railing. Will you get it?”

“Sure I’ll get it.”

“How be I throw you over the railing?”

“How old will you be, Silver?” I asked.

“On the 23rd I’ll be 52. Outcast is a couple of months older than I am.”

“How old are you, Chester?”

“I’m sixty-four.”

“How are you feeling. Are your toes still black  from being run over by the the bus?”

“Yes they’re still black, but they’re getting better. I’m still in a lot of pain. I usually don’t take pills. The only thing I take is demerol. My doctor gives it to me for migraines. They get very bad. I get them about once a month.”

“Have you seen Joy today?” asked Loretta.

“No,” I replied, “she wasn’t panning this morning.”

“She was here yesterday,” said Silver. “Maybe she panned large and doesn’t need to come out today. I’m just staying around until the pigs come. Then I’m taking off. I hid my backpack with my beer in it, so if they come, all I can lose is this can on the railing.”

“Friday, they were here nearly every hour,” said Outcast. “I kicked over three cans.”

Loretta said, “I left my beer on the railing, right where it was. They didn’t say anything.”

Outcast said, “Debbie’s computer crashed today. I had some savings put away, so I bought her this laptop. It was regularly $400.00, I got it for $200.00.”

Silver said, “Sorry, Dennis, for my smoke getting in your face. It’s getting so we’re not allowed to smoke in parks, on public patios or any public places.

“I nearly burnt my bed the other night. My mattress is on the floor. The end of my cigarette fell off and I guess it rolled under the edge of my mattress. I kept asking my roommate, ‘Do you smell something burning?’ I flipped over my mattress and there was a plate sized, smoldering hole. I got two or three pans of water from the sink and doused it. Then I had to sleep on the floor.”

“Silver,” said Outcast, “you’re dropping ashes on Chester’s backpack. Soon, it’s going to be on fire.”

“Chester,” said Loretta, “come over here and stand in front of me. I want to take off these long pants and put on my shorts. I’m too hot in these.”

Outcast said, “I’m really being stupid. I have asthma, I’m smoking and I don’t have my puffer with me.

“I’ve got lung problems too. Now, it’s turned into cancer. In the 1980’s I was working on the Post Office building, removing asbestos. We weren’t wearing masks. We didn’t even know it was dangerous, back then. Of the twenty-seven guys I worked with only thirteen are still alive. The rest of us are still waiting for a settlement from the government.

“At least I have insurance so my kids are taken care of. My brother was a firefighter during 9/11 in New York. His lungs are so badly corroded, from the dust and the smoke, that, he can’t do anything. I come from a family of eleven boys and one girl. I’m the youngest.”

“That’s a big family,” I commented.

“How was your weekend, Silver?”

“I panned in my usual place on Saturday. On Sunday, I was at the two churches downtown in four shifts from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm. I always do well there.

“This morning I went for breakfast at the Salvation Army. Mondays they always have a full breakfast. I had a three egg sandwich. They have really good sausages there. Tuesday, at the Mission, they’re having their full breakfast.

“On Father’s Day Chicken Man will be coming by. He came into a lot of money, now he’s spreading it around. On Father’s Day and on Mother’s Day he gives away chicken and turkey hot dogs, and with them he hands out $5.00 bills.”

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