Monday, September 7, 2015

Searching for Warmth

   I could hear each of my inhales shake, and every exhale jump. My hands were clammy and wouldn't keep still. As I rounded the corner, and Collingwood Heights came into my view, my pace picked itself up. As I honed in on the light of the foyer, it felt like the shadows were closing in around me.
   "Ruby Jazz?" A voice behind me leaped out of the darkness. My heart stopped, and fell into my stomach before restarting. I could feel the veins in my neck swell with each of my adrenaline-filled heart's pumps. I turned to see a man who, in every way, reminded me of the old, mean hound dog that used to live on my street growing up.
   "I have some questions for you," He said approaching me with heavy steps.

   In the perceived safety of the well my well lit house, my chest felt tight as if it might burst. I could feel all my suppressed heat condensing into tears in my eyes. I hated that. I tried to swallow, but my mouth was too dry. The detective's eyes and his words left no room mine. I felt trapped and it made my fists ball up. That hadn't happened in years. My teeth ground together. I felt helpless, and I wanted out. He was in my home, leaning on my wall, questioning my words. I just wanted to know what in God's green Earth happened to my goddamn stuff, and this guy was on a crazily different page. 
   "I gotta pee," I said pinching my arm. I walked down the short front hall, but instead of turning into the bathroom, I grabbed my coat and ran back out into the shadows.

   Outside again. Driven out of my own house again. I was honestly numb. All my emotions were squeezed out of me for the night, and I was just looking for something warm. Next door, I watched a woman I recognized from Collingwood trying to light a cigarette. She was fumbling with a lighter. She was drunk, and couldn't keep the flame lit in the wind. Her breathing was fast, and her fingers shook. I walked up to her, the neon bar lights from Hot Legs illuminating the sidewalk.
   "Need help, kid?"
   She looked up at me with frustrated, sad eyes. Like a child who had just stubbed their toe. She nodded and handed me the lighter. She smelled like whiskey, and I couldn't help but sadly project my own fate onto her. The maternal instinct I had never needed to tap into pinged around in my chest. I lit her cigarette and one of my own. I stood with her in the dark silence.
    Her breathing slowed down after a while, and she looked at me, I think realizing that I was there for the first time. She pointed a lazy finger at the sky.
   "There's a lunar eclipse, ya know." She slurred to me. I followed her finger up and looked to where she was directing me. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. The moon was filled with fire. It was glowing orange, and it warmed me to my core.
I turned to look back at the drunken woman with the childlike eyes. She looked goofily happy. I laughed and looked back up at the moon.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

I'm not a scammer

The day started with an exhausting phone conversation with my sister. We were talking because a week ago, I woke up to find that half the things in my apartment were gone. It was hard to believe because I sleep in the same room as all my things, and I'd thought I'd have noticed half them leaving. But I didn't, and they're gone.

So, I run downstairs to tell the front desk man that he failed at his job; half my things didn't go out through the roof. "I've been robbed!" I tell him, and he gives me that, "Oh well," look I get all the time cause I'm homeless, or used to be homeless, or look like I'm homeless.

But he gives me that look and I say, "Call the Police, man, come upstairs, I'll show ya!" And he says okay and slowly calls the police and comes upstairs. And I show him my half empty apartment. "It looks fine to me." "What?" I yelled at him, "My table is gone, my plant is gone, my rug is gone, and my TV is gone!" Then he's staring at me like I'm a little girl who just broke a lamp. "Oh, no no no, man, I'm not trying anything." "Well I didn't see anything, ma'am." I hate when people call me, "ma'am."

When the cops got there they asked me all the wrong questions.
"What's your name, ma'am?"
"Ruby Jazz."
"That's an interesting name, Ms. Jazz."
"Thanks I chose it myself."
"How old are you and how long have you lived in Collingwood Heights?"
"Uh, 65, and I've been in 1207 for 2 months."
"It says on your record, here, that you lived in shelters for 7 years, and you have 23 arrests is that right Ms. Jazz?"
"Yes, but uh -"
"And you're aware that there are video cameras in the foyer which show no table, or plant, or rug, or TV ever leaving?"
"Uh, I didn't know that, but uh -"
"Ms. Jazz, is there anyone who can verify that there was in fact a table, a plant, a rug, and a TV in this room? Any neighbors, or -"
"Yeah my sister!"

So I went to the phone by the El Cheapo, to call my sister. (I hadn't bumped into any neighbors yet, cause there aren't that many of us living in the building. And I'm staying for cheap under the floor that's being renovated, so no close neighbors. It's noisy, but I'm not inside while they're working too often.) But I'm at the El Cheapo trying to call my sister and she keeps not picking up. "Hello, this is Nancy, please leave your name and number and I'll call you back when I can." I run in and ask the guy Shawn if I can get a quarter maybe, I've been coming there for a long time, so I think he might if I tell him what's going on.

But my bad, because when I asked him, he went off on a 7 minute rant about how broke he is, and how some kids broke is window, and how we were in the same boat.

So now it's a week later, and I'm in bed, and my sister finally calls just to tell me that she's sorry about what happened, but she can't do anything, because she doesn't think it'll help and she doesn't have the time. And I got mad because what the hell? But she fell apart, crying about how much she does for everyone, and I told her I was sorry, and that everything would be fine, and give her grandkids a hug for me, and to tell Jerry, "No," sometimes. And she told me to be safe, and keep my head up, and to get to tell Betty she said, "Hello."

So I sigh, then smile, make myself an egg and hit the street.