“You’re just so retarded, dude,” the drunkard said as I passed by. This caught my attention. I was heading to some lakes to read a book. To write letters and watch teens throw each other off bridges into water for the delight of their friends. But now I was distracted and so propped against a wall to watch the argument.
The hobo was shorter than the drunkard, and seemed to have a fucked brain. He couldn’t counter the insults thrown at him, and kept claiming he had a job, though couldn’t remember where. The drunk guy was a prick. Apparently the hobo had walked too near the mixed drink the drunkard carried. Guy said the hobo didn’t even know the rules of the street. Topping this list was don’t fuck with this guy’s drink. Only dipshit retards didn’t know that. The drunkard kept on threatening to smash in the street dude’s glasses.
After watching this escalate for the next few minutes, without them noticing me enjoying their fight just a couple feet away, I broke it up. Got to suck up the yummy drama that churns the joy in my heart, but didn’t want to see violence. Before I could offer to take the hobo across the street and get him some McDonald’s, that probably would’ve left him scraping his ass with the hamburger bag after diarrhea, he took off across the road. Bummer.
I wanted to get his story. Have him tell me how long he’d been on the street, his favorite kind of pizza, what he was going to do with winter lurking. Invite him to play board games with me at a restaurant sometime. We could even get wasted. Or maybe do none of those things. Just share a bag of fries together and let him get on with his life. But now, a month later, I was back with Celery, hoping to catch some good stories.
Within a few minutes a dude waiting for the bus started talking to us. He was tall, dreadlocked, and had the earnestness of someone excited to tell you about the healing powers of the chakras in their armpits. If I’d been eating a peanut butter sandwich he surely would’ve clenched it between his upper arm and pit to rid it of salmonella. Here ya are Nolan, good as new. Thanks, my man.
Dude told us his name was Forest, just one R, like the woods. He seemed proud to not be RR, disassociated from that famous bus bench sitter. I figured he was born with a different moniker, named himself this for the times he spends talking to North Dakotans at busy Minneapolis bus stops. I need a better bus moniker than just Nolan. Perhaps Mark Dust. I guess I’m still working on a good replacement.
“Yeah man, I donate plasma twice a week,” he replied after I told him about how I do drug studies for a living. “The thing is that I bless the plasma as it goes out. Give it a certain frequency so they’re not stealing part of me.”
Celery and I looked at each other, knowing we’d found someone good. The flow of traffic and people faded away as we began to focus on him. “So they try siphon bits of your soul or what?” I asked.
“Well yeah, those fuckers in the government want it for some reason. I figure I can make a few hundred bucks a month though, so it’s worth it.” I liked the exchange rate he’d devised for souls to dollars.
Forest was cool. He tried to get Celery to use a marker to scribble her name next to his on the base of a stoplight. When she refused he showed us this slim book on Zen he’d pocketed. The three of us talked about how we all owned copies of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, yet none of us had actually read it. My copy is sitting at the bottom of a laundry hamper full of good books.
Forest caught his bus and never asked for cigarettes or money, even after a legit hobo came by and he saw me give this bum a dollar. He was off to downtown, book tucked away in his hoodie. Forest had a bit of the dharma, and his forty bucks from plasma — nothing else was needed. Dude was set. With him gone, we talked about the frequencies in our arms, how we should have asked Forest to bless us. Two atheists in need of a good chakra cleansing. But we’d have settled for a poisoned sandwich to help distract us from the cold.
I’m not sure what it was about Celery and I that made people stop and chat. Somehow they knew we weren’t really waiting for our bus to arrive. Maybe we looked friendly: This short, excitable girl in a red coat and scuffed boots. This smiling guy nodding at everyone passing by when he wasn’t laughing or twisting his scarf.
Before long another young person stopped by to talk with us. This was Matthew, better known as Pat Pat. He didn’t like being the name Pat Pat, but said that’s what we should call him since everyone else does. Didn’t occur to the man to rename himself something better when talking to strangers.
“HELLO. How YOU doing?” was Pat Pat’s favorite greeting, affirmation, and interjection. He was very thin, shaved head, and wore oversized jeans with a red design crawling up his leg that wound onto his ass. Something resembling the progeny of a dragon and a pot leaf. He was always looking around him, never focusing on your face for more than a few seconds at a time.
“Black girls don’t fuck me because they think I’m white, and they think white boys don’t got it.” He had his life philosophies worked out. “But I’m mixed, and I got seven inches. When they see it they think ‘Damn.’”
“So black guys aren’t the only ones packing?” Celery asked.
“Nah. It’s like this. White girls are prettier, but I like black girls best because they’re crazier in bed.”
“So you don’t discriminate? Seven inches for all?” I wondered, hoping he’d take it out for us to see.
“No, that’s what I’m saying. I got seven inches. Under here it’s like, HELLO, how YOU doing?” He kept motioning at his crotch. “But I’m a romantic and girls like that.”
“I can see why the girls love you,” Celery told him.
“I bet they can’t even walk after you get done with them. Go home thinking, ‘Damn, Pat Pat tore me up again.’” I was making Celery laugh by saying stuff like this. Every time we subtly mocked our friend we’d look over at each other, sharing a knowing smile.
I thought of how just a couple hours before, in a Jimmy John’s, I told her about the first time I jacked off, as she tried to work through her veggie sandwich. It involved middle school me measuring my penis and thinking I had an infection when the stuff came out. With all this talk and measuring of penises in my own life, maybe I wasn’t much better than Pat Pat. Imagined myself approaching strangers in line at First Avenue, offering to jack off for them as they blew smoke onto it. Laughed at my own ridiculousness. I looked at a French fry on the ground near us at the bus stop, considered eating it, and let my mind jump back into his stories.
Pat Pat talked about his dick a lot, but he also liked bragging about killing people. We sat this entire time as he stood and showboated, playing out the rundown of his various shootings and stabbings. The smoke of his cigarettes swirled ’round our heads throughout the performance. He lifted his shirt to show me where he’d been shanked near the left nipple. Told us about growing up in Chicago, how he was always getting shot there. How his dad had been killed. When I asked about the man he said he didn’t want to talk about it. Later, when describing how he didn’t like his father, I asked if he’d been the one who killed him. Now he really didn’t want to talk about it.
A transient girl with dreads and purple sweatpants showed up. She could have been pretty in another life, a life where she didn’t grow her hair into knotted weeds. Pat Pat bummed cigarettes off her and kept trying to kiss the girl’s hand. “Dude, that’s not cool,” I had to remind him over and over. His subtle charm wasn’t working on this chick. She was smart enough to keep away. He asked us for cigarettes (we don’t smoke), then ran across the street to piss in a parking lot.
I asked the girl about the black Yin she had tattooed on her knuckles. It had something to do with the darkness of life, how things circle back to being shit. She should have been around when Forest was. But she also talked about peace.
When Pat Pat came back from his piss I asked him his favorite way to kill people. It involves walking up behind someone, sticking a knife in their temple, then walking on as if nothing happened. This angered the girl and she started telling him how it wasn’t cool to just go around stabbing people. Her voice got raspy as she yelled, blowing smoke from her cigarette, condemning him as a violent idiot. She asked if he was in the Bloods due to his red clothes. He confirmed it. Girl said he was the only Blood she knew to hang around Uptown.
If he was the only one then I guess he needed our friendship. I’d lead this new gang, The Minneapolis Sevens. Celery, an art school student who probably couldn’t get violent, would contribute by painting portraits of us under bridges as a way to mark territory. Stay back, this is our land. Only we are allowed to bum cigarettes ’round these parts.
I started thinking of a trip I’ve been hoping to make around the country, how I plan to travel from city to city, living out of my car. Pat Pat and his gang association made me have to confront that there is a whole world of hidden violence out there, how I’d have to be careful if I planned on sleeping in my trunk every night. Not every gangster was going to be dumb enough to not realize how much I playfully mocked them in conversation.
Pat Pat told us he’d come out to rob someone that night, but because Celery and I were so nice he wasn’t going to do a mugging. We felt flattered and entertained. I’d wondered why he never hopped on a bus, and now had the answer. Dude wanted to rob someone. The girl told him he was stupid for all his violent ways. I purposefully agitated her by saying, “Nah, fuck that, Pat Pat just defends his turf.” I claimed him and I were pacifists like her, but that every now and then a motherfucker had to give up his wallet or else get knifed.
Pat Pat bonked me on the head as a demonstration of how he’d been janked in the skull. The transient girl looked over and I explained how I was being shown effective stabbing methods. Celery was now talking to the girl as this went on — two separate conversations running — as Pat Pat had become a bit too intense for them. I asked him more about his dick, which was a source of endless fascination for me, before the girl eventually ran across the street to catch her bus.
So now it was just the three of us again. And the French fry I kept on wanting to touch, to squish between my toes. The trickle of people and traffic slowed down to where we were almost alone. Less candidates to choose from, but Pat Pat was still great and all we needed. Every now and then a guy dressed in purple walked by. A chain affixed his nose to an ear, the metal gently swinging against his neck. Pat Pat tried bumming cigs off him with no success.
We retreaded on some of his favorite topics, Celery asking him about his seven incher, his killings, if he worked. Each time we asked a question like this we’d repeat his favorite refrain of “Hello. How you doing?” after he gave an answer that made no sense. He would affirm our understanding by saying a “Hello” himself, leaning down into our faces as he let it out.
A fiftyish man in sweat pants showed up at our hang spot. It was late now, Adult Swim would be getting ready to repeat its block of programming for the night. Felt so cold we bundled against each other and pretended to stab the air in our best Pat Pat imitations to keep moving, to keep warm.
Sweat Pants asked Celery where she’d gone to school and had a few questions about North Dakota for me. The two of them talked about Minneapolis suburbs and other local things I didn’t understand, as I was relatively new to town. He spoke to us about his rare blood type and how he makes triple money while donating plasma. We told him about our friend Forest and how this guy should make sure to bless his plasma as it was sucked from him. ‘Tis very important the frequencies be kept clear.
Said he normally drove a Mercedes. I guess it was just for one night, his bus hopping in sweatpants. Tomorrow he’d be back to the Mercedes. Before boarding his ride, giant water bottle in hand, he told us to stop by the race track in the summer if we ever wanted to make some serious dough. Celery and I gave each other that knowing smile.
We chatted a bit more with Pat Pat. He admitted he was drunk and fucked up. We feigned surprise. Told us about what he was up to. How he had to rob people because his rent was $695, and come on, that was just too expensive for a studio.
“$695? The bastards,” I told him.
“HELLO!” he yelled.
“How YOU doing?” Celery replied, laughing, tapping me to join in.
He told us he’d been homeless a few months back and how he’d been arrested on some charge we couldn’t understand. Apparently he hadn’t been convicted over his alleged body count though. He also talked about the drugs he’d done: pot, mushrooms, tire sealant — nothing too hard. I told him how I’d been on a plane out to Portland a month and a half prior and spent the entire flight talking with a girl in a Boy Scout uniform about hallucinogens and hitching. How she offered me tabs of acid once we landed. How she’d told me about a weed smoking parrot she met while hiking volcanoes in Hawaii. About how it’s a dream of mine to smoke DMT in the trunk of my car.
Pat Pat had asked us a couple hours prior if he could come hang with us when we left. I came up with a story saying I’d love to have him but we were heading to an old woman’s house and she wouldn’t want him around. Now he was asking us again. Celery and I were cold and we’d been sitting at the bus stop for three or four hours. Pat Pat also tried to put his hand on her lap a couple times. It felt like time to go.
Told him we needed to get going, our old lady friend was probably getting nervous about her late night visitors. He asked us for cigarettes one last time and I once again said I’d give him my whole pack except we don’t smoke. Told him to have a good night. He wished us the same. I thought about picking up the dead French fry that I’d been staring at for hours. It would have tasted so good.
“Good luck robbing people,” I called out as I waved goodbye.
We walked off toward my car as he went around the corner to ask someone for a smoke.
As we walked back we talked about how much we loved our new friend. Made plans to ride around on city buses for hours to see what other kind of rad people we could meet. It was refreshing to talk to people so open. Who were seemingly happy. Even if some were beyond scuzzy, the insight was still great. Good to know you could just sit down on a bench and hold court for a night with strangers whose experiences are so removed from the way we live our own lives. Connect instantly, sustain that for a few hours, then wander back into your own personal world, carrying a bit of the interaction with you. Their effect on yours to be given in half-lifes to the worlds of others you meet. We both felt uplifted from the experience, and I hope the people we talked to can say the same.
Heading to my car we checked behind us a few times to make sure Pat Pat wasn’t trying to tag along, wasn’t hearing us make jokes about his seven incher. In actuality I’d guess his cock measures much smaller. That he doesn’t have much experience or control. His penis able to be ejaculated when wedged between a slice of cheese and the beating heart of a mouse.
I don’t think his size matters though. Dipshits say it’s what inside that counts, and I know Pat Pat could entertain me for hours with his ridiculous claims. I admire the boldness. So in a bizarro universe scenario of him and I dating, I’d eat both his body and his warmth. I mean, if I were fuckable to Pat Pat, I’d let the guy slide his blade into every orifice I got. He said he likes white chicks. Loves the buck of a black girl. I wonder if he’d ever romance a white guy like me.
Shit, I hope so.