Monday, July 19, 2010

Radio Trasmission

He looked about 60, had a long, stringy beard and active, intense blue eyes. He was also wearing a new bicycle helmet over a ball cap and had on a winter coat open over denim overalls. A collection of ballpoint pens neatly lined his pockets.

"Hey, you been to San Diego?"

This was what my shirt said. A friend gave it to me after she came back from vacation. I never go anywhere. People feel sorry about it or else they get tired of me bitching about it.

"No," I told him.

"You ever been to Los Angeles?"


"You ever been to Hollywood?"

No and it apparently didn't matter. The old man quickly explained that LA was dirty, but Hollywood was very clean. You could eat out of the dumpsters the food was so clean and you never saw cigarette butts on the sidewalk.

"They get those up," he said.

"I've been to Miami, Florida," he told me. "That's great. It's pretty."

Abruptly, he noticed a car on the street then lowered his voice.

"You've got to be careful here," he said. "On this street. People will rob you."

I tried to tell him, I'd heard it could get dangerous, sometimes, after dark.

"See, that car over there. They shouldn't be in that lane. They should turn in the other lane and give themselves more room in case, you know?"

I didn't.

"But Charleston is good." And for a few moments he talked about cable cars and how everything had changed since the 1950s.

I was having fun, but I really needed to get going: get back to work.

"You've got a job?" He asked."Where at?"

"The newspaper," I told him.

He nodded, then pointed up Capital Street. "Up there, you've got Quarrier Street. You make a left and there's a church down that way, St. John's. It's got red doors out front. You take the door from the parking lot. They serve breakfast at 8 a.m. and lunch at 12 o'clock."

He repeated the information to me, slightly louder to make sure I got it, then he directed me to look the other way.

"That way is Covenant House. They can help you get your laundry done, get you a waiver for clothes if you need them, even help you get an apartment."

He stopped talking and just looked at me.

"Well," I said. "I'll see you around."

He nodded and went on his way.

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