sometimes you find yourself down and out in paris and london, and sometimes you find yourself down and out in belmont, massachusetts. it isn’t always easy being down and out, but if christ taught us anything it’d that you keep going until romans have destroyed your body and left you to rot. and then, while you rot, ask the guy who’s rotting next to you how he’s doing. and then redeem his soul.
i bumped into scott after realizing that north station in boston was decidedly not open for the night, despite the fact that it used to be, and that i was cold, that things were really not super great at the moment. i had just come from a three hour stint trying to sleep in a backyard outside of the hospital i’d left for reasons that i hope some day someone will let me know. my BAC was a .38 when i got there and i was in tatters. which isn’t to say that i haven’t been in tatters for a while, but yeah. there’s the sleeping in a backyard thing, and then awaking to the cold and worrying about coyotes, and then going across the street because that’s definitely a great idea, and there’s probably a waterfall but it’s too dark to see, but it sounds like a waterfall, and what’s that crossword clue for lee because you should get out of the wind and there’s a little hill right this way, and then being like, dude you’ve really fucked it up this time and the hospital is right there. and then trying to position yourself in a way that won’t be noticed and also isn’t arctic. you’ll regret not bringing a scarf and mittens. you’ll inwardly curse at the ducks or swans or whoever seems to get startled and start squawking whenever you move. you’ll be like, “hey this is an experience, at least,” and you’ll be like, “maybe not walking out on the people at the hospital would have been an experience, too.” and then you’ll go back and forth on the hill that leads to the admissions office, being like, “can i walk 20 miles home? or should i just try to sleep again.” you’ll check twitter because you’re a dumbass and a glutton for punishment. things will be just as horrible as usual. you’ll finally just say, “hey, even if i blow everything i’ve got getting home, at least i won’t die in some shitty state park.” then you’ll say, “that’s not fair to the park. it might be a damn treasure.” fuck those fowl, though.
so this is where you’re at.
you’re not wearing the appropriate footwear because you didn’t plan to do this. it’s that time of night when you’ve got to buzz into the hospital. the two men behind the desk are kind of not surprised in the “that’s a thing” blase way that suggests this isn’t their first rodeo. you say, “hi, can i get a cab from here?” and kind of regret that you’ve never put uber or lyft on your phone for moral reasons because here you are and what good are morals anyway as we all quickly burn.
you go, which is a mistake. you know it’s a mistake. but you leave and you go.
half an hour later, after the cab driver has hit a curb and missed basic GPS cues and spent a not inconsiderable time texting, you pay the way too much bill because this is all stupid and we’re probably living in a simulation, and you walk to the train station. it’s in a state of never-ending construction, so it looks a bit weird. you need smokes. 7/11 is right there so you get smokes and you’re like, “meh i can just sit at the station and doze until sun-up.” you’ve done this before. you once missed the last train (let’s be real, you’ve done it more than once, but this is an example), and just sat there with the assorted pigeons and other people who were just way too tired, the security guys who would poke you with night sticks reminding you that you can sleep, but you must sleep in the upright position. that sort of thing.
and so you’re at the entrance to the train station, and you’re like, “seriously? they don’t stay open now?” and you’re also like, “christ it’s cold and there’s not really many places to catch a few zs right now.” so you’re like. okay. and then you’re like, okay. and then you turn around and you’re like, “i have no idea what i’ve got to do, but let’s find out.”
the fact that you bump into scott is important for all sorts of symbolic reasons given all the stupid shit that your life consists of right now, but from a practical standpoint you’ve got a few hours to kill, it’s not *that* cold, so it’s about time to get your conversation-game going. scott looks okay, which is good, but within the first two minutes of your discussion he reveals that he just shit his pants, and the absolutely crazy woman who just came up to him says “oh, oh.” you’re like, “okay, interesting opener.” you’re also like, “okay? i’m running out of options, and this could be something i’ll write about.”
which, of course, is all that a lot of this has been about for a while. so you’re like, “at least this is a bookend. at least i suffered. at least i can tell someone about that, at least i can tell someone how to bounce back.”
you’re still waiting on that last part.
and then you’re like, “shit, life keeps going after this, and i’ve gotta actually write it down and not just be like ‘wow how magical.’ i’ve actually gotta stop worrying about how fucking boringly ‘literary’ this is, and fish or cut bait.” but the fact of the matter is that you have absolutely nothing else to do at the moment, and you kind of enjoy doing things that are stupidly interesting, and talking to scott for a few hours while waiting for a train and taking slugs off his vodka after you’ve slept in someone’s backyard after getting dropped off at a hospital after crying for the better part of a month after telling everyone “you just don’t understand” basically, which is supremely vain and pathetic. after doing all of that? maybe you’ll just sit back and wait for a couple of hours and talk to this dude who you went to detox with about life. and ignore the smell. and count the minutes.
scott is still a person. you’re still a person. the crazy lady who accompanied you for couple of hours was still a person. sean, who asked for a hit of vodka while he also wandered aimlessly is a person. so when scott’s like, “i can’t get out of the wind and into the vestibule cause i shit my pants,” and you’re like “dude, i’ve got a roller bag full of clothes, what’s your waist size?” and he says “34. maybe 36.” and you’re like, “fuck, i’m a bit too small, but if you need to wipe your ass, my dude, just take a t-shirt. i’ve got you.” and he does. and maybe he goes around the corner and you don’t talk about what he needed to do because fucking c’mon. you really need to get out of the wind, and he really needs to wipe his ass.
scott calls you tommy. there are not many people you let get away with that shit, but some fucking malden dude from detox who you already kinda lionize for reasons that are incoherent, fine.
scott says, “tommy, i’ve got bone cancer.” you’re like, “wow, this is going to be super depressing because that’s what my dad had, and i’ve got this lower back pain that i’m worried about, and so, let’s see where this is going.”
scott says, “tommy, i don’t give a fuck.” he points at your feet. “i can’t walk like you anymore, but i don’t have to.” he continues:
“tommy,” taking a swig of rubinoff.