Texas Beginning of June
It’s a hot summer day in the city. No, not hot like typical sticky-warm, it is HOT; triple digit you could crack an egg on the street and fix yourself an omelet kind of heat.
We have decided to sip coffee on the upstairs patio and gaze out at the small plot of concrete between our house and the cleaners. A large dilapidated building stands precariously next to the busy street only allowing pedestrians a treacherous 12” sidewalk to avoid the steady streams of traffic that race from the roundabout. The cars blow by as though they are NASCAR drivers, all the while, their engines reverberate between the structures and let us know that mufflers really are blessing. This, my friends is a luxury that many motorists are completely ignorant of or refuse to address. Regardless, it is a constant reminder that we chose a life in the city and that includes the sound effects, as exessive as some of them are.
The backside of the neglected structure faces our patio with its corrugated metal roof; it is supported by a couple of termite digested wooden posts which are structurally ready to collapse with the right wind speed. The sun-bleached “NO TRESPASSING” sign glares from the barred and chained door. If you look at it from the corner of your eye the aged brick, with its caving roof, can be slightly pleasant. The overhang does shade about one quarter of the vacant concrete lot and the facade does successfully serve the purpose of blocking the traffic noises when they become obnoxious.
I switch on the mini speaker and Bob Marley blares and echos between the buildings.
“Could this Be Love…”
Just as I begin to relax and read the news, I catch a glimpse of one of the usual homeless men that passes through the empty paved lot. He trudges toward the shade of the overhang from that blight of a building. I watch him as he warily sets down his backpack and stares at the ground before him.
His attire is worn, faded and very dirty. I am quite sure he has a pungent smell that has layered over time. The dustman hat he is wearing takes me back to memories of Eliza’s father, Alfred Doolittle, in the play Pygmalion; more famously known as “My Fair Lady”. I am not sure as to where he found such a gem of a hat, but it does shelter his tawdry neck from the unforgiving heat. I cannot picture him ever being lively as he drags his feet together, bends over, and pulls a large Cobra beer from his dark backpack. He stands beneath the overhang and gulps his beer as he faces our porch. It’s an awkward moment, he is a mere 20 yards away. I call to Joe as he fills his coffee mug inside.
“Who is that? Or for that matter why is he trespassing at the broke down palace?”
Joe walks over, slurps his cup and nods from the doorway,
“Oh yea, he’s at his typical beer chugging spot. Yup, I see him everyday….”says Joe
as he steps onto the porch and continues to savor his coffee with a hand on his hip as he watches the man.
All of a sudden, Joe quickly sets his mug down and walks to the edge of the porch. Our old pug charges behind him to the railing and barks loudly as he has just noticed the presence of a stranger.
Joe startles me as he bangs on the the railing and begins shouting.
“Hey! What the FUCK?! WHAT are you doing???”
I look out past Joe and see the man in a squatting position staring wide-eyed back at us. He looks like he is in a trans as he continues what he is doing, all the while laser-focused on Joe.
“DUDE, get the FUCK out of here you had better not be doing whaaaat… OH MAN you did. You took a SHIT! That’s IT!”
Joe spins around, his feet pound over the patio boards as he storms inside to pick up his cell and begin what I expect to be a very interesting conversation with the cops.
The man at this point has stumbled forward and yanked up his pants. I watch him saunter around the corner clumsily. Most probably, he is on his way back to his park bench. I stare in disbelief as the sun shifts beneath a cloud. He has left behind not only a piece of himself but an object that will remain untouched by anyone. Only the elements will confirm its fate. The previously disposed beer cans shimmer as the sun hits them in the high grass. There must be at least half a dozen now. I just stand there with my cup slack jawed. This is not real… Bob Marley’s song slowly fades. Pug snorts and stretches across the top of the stairs, he is oblivious to everything.
How nice is it to know that our abandoned neighbor serves as both a bar and a porta-potty? I walk inside and dump out the rest of my coffee; pug scampers in behind me and rams the back of my leg with his face. Maybe it’s the heat, or maybe it’s simply the large abandoned human turd that lies innocently before the barricaded front door of the abandoned building. I no longer wish to take in the sights & sounds of the city today.
Shortly after a shitty performance, a large police SUV circles the vacant lot and parks next to our fence. I watch as the cop gets out of his vehicle, strolls over and assesses the scene. It takes him about 30 seconds to walk up, notice the excrement, shake his head and call it in on his shoulder. Just as quickly as he arrived he hops back into the safety of his SUV and he speeds away. Upon his departure the issue still remains…
The SHIT stands alone.
Thank you Mr. Poolittle for proving that THIS is why we cannot have nice things.