Archive for July 8, 2020


2 September 2011

Joy was crying and drinking sherry mixed with water. Her disability check was sent to the wrong address. There is a new resident at Cornerstone House who is driving her crazy. The resident is eighteen years old and does nothing but talk to herself. Joy is hoping to move to a friend’s basement in the near future.

She has cracked cartilage in her nose with a gash across the bridge, two black eyes, and pneumonia in both lungs. Her boyfriend (who is 6’3″ and weighs over 200 pounds) punched her in the face when she wouldn’t give him oral sex (she couldn’t breathe through her nose because of her pneumonia). He left her on the sidewalk in a pool of blood. A month ago he kicked her to the point that her whole right side was bruised, she had two cracked and two fractured ribs. In both cases, she phoned the police, so hopefully this time he will be in jail for a long time.

I sat with her, gave her a big hug, and let her vent.

“I love Jake, but I have to take care of myself. I can’t be somebody’s punching bag. One day he’s going to kill me.”

I can’t believe that she lets him anywhere near her. She even felt bad about phoning the police. Then he stole her phone. I’ve been hearing these stories since I first met her. I can’t figure it out.

Joy’s friends have told her that this guy will kill her one day, and she believes it. Originally, they were to move into their friend’s basement together. Now, the friend says that Big Jake is not allowed to move in. He has been responsible for all the other beatings Joy has received in the past two years.

She apologized for venting her feelings to me. I mentioned that she had done the same for me. She said, “Yeah, that’s what friends are for. Right?” That’s when I gave her a hug.


12 September 2011

“I’m moving into a house with a friend. It’s really nice, lots of room. We didn’t have an exciting weekend, we just spent time organizing the house. Everything seems to be going relatively well.” She was rubbing her hand and said, “My roommate was drunk and acting like a bozo last week, so I gave him a shot in the head. I think I broke my hand again. I didn’t go tho the hospital, but it really hurts, that and the arthritis in my knees. Cops tell me to get up, and I say to them, ‘Where would you like me to sit since I can’t stand?’ If it’s not one thing, it’s another.”

“I got a letter from Jake, through a friend who lives at the shelter where I used to be. It had a dream catcher inside. I taught him how to make those. He doesn’t know my new address, my friend won’t tell him. In the letter, Jake apologized and said that he felt bad for nearly killing me. He asked me to appear in court for him and to change my testimony. He wants me to say that we were both drunk and that I don’t remember what happened.

“I don’t know what to do. I still love him but I’m not willing to risk a charge of perjury, or obstruction of justice. That would put me back inside. Even if Jake does go to jail, he will be getting out some time and will be looking for me. He’ll find me because we have the same friends and go to the same places. I don’t want to move to another city just to get away from him.”


14 September 2011

Antonio, a mutual friend of ours, was badly beaten as he slept on a park bench. Some guys came along and punched and kicked him for no reason leaving him with two broken ribs, a black eye, the side of his face purple, and swollen. He also has a concussion. Now, he sleeps in another park with surveillance cameras. He is a tiny man, he probably doesn’t weigh a hundred pounds. I just feel sick thinking about him.


15 September 2011

This morning was very revealing. I was approaching Joy and was about to enter the restaurant where I buy her sausage, egg, and cheese on an English muffin when she waved at me and beckoned me to come over. She asked, “Can I change my order? I’d like a toasted sesame seed bagel with double cream cheese. Would that be okay?” (There is a point to this.)

I returned with her bagel and sat next to her on the sidewalk. She smiled and began eating the bagel, “Lately, I love cream cheese. People ask me if I’m pregnant and I tell them that if I am I’ll sue the doctor.

“I’ve been having trouble eating sausage. It gives me severe heartburn. It’s because I have this wire cage in my stomach — Long story short, I used to be a crack dealer. I’d mix the crack with flavored spritzers, grape, strawberry, and pink lemonade. I sell this guy a pink one, he gets a buzz, everything is great — happy customer. He goes inside for a while then comes out again. He asks for another pink one. ‘Look, man, I only got purple and red, but it’s all the same shit.’ He goes berserk and says I’m trying to rip him off.

“He reaches in his coat and pulls out a saw-toothed machete. He stabbed me in the stomach, then pulled it up through my ribs. My stomach was cut up so bad they had to reconstruct it. Now, I have this chicken wire cage holding everything together. They made a small upper chamber and a larger one below. Now, food goes into the small chamber where it’s predigested. Sometimes it doesn’t stay, it comes right back up. I have to be real careful about what I eat.”

Joy had to pee and asked if I would wait with her stuff. She said, “Any change you make you can keep.” When she returned she said that I looked really cool sitting there. (I didn’t make any money, but I had a first-hand view of panhandling on the street — the dirty looks, averted eyes, One woman said, “Good luck.” I think she meant it seriously.



Gotta Find a Home: Conversations with Street People ($2.99 Download) ($2.99 Download) ($2.99 Download) ($2.99 Download)

They Call Me Red: ($2.99 Download)

Private Eye: Eugene Leftowicz ($2.99 Download)