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A Bum and Some Guy

In the void there are words unspoken. As eyes flutter I can feel messages being relayed. They speak to me in frank, bitter silence. "You are not wanted here."

The cold returned to our sleepy town and with it cold hearts. Restless, silent, relentless; suffering from wanting. Our homeless line coats with layers of newspaper for insulation, but somehow manage smiles, showing how much they have in an awkward grimace through broken yellow teeth. How base am I to want when they have nothing...and yet, there is a lingering sadness on their humble, drooping smiles, like wilting flowers, from life into bliss, from bliss into the sun, and cut off from life, dulling out and going flat.

I can hear car horns, ambulances wailing from minor to major chords. Our whistling public crying out its little dance of decadence in a symphony of pain, horrific and mocking in the rising holiday crescendo.

"Can you dig the build up?" I looked at Mr. Hensley, my wise and simple homeless friend. He was speaking to me. I had almost forgotten he was there. "Yes, I can. They seek and they don't know what for. They work and they can't explain why. They breathe and they can't explain it. They ask questions and don't want answers. They want only comfort, but there is no comfort without struggle. Did you know that?" He stared at me in faked acknowledgment. "Yeah, I dig it, too," he said.

Yes, you do, I thought. A whole world loped fat and bloated beneath my feet, whirling and whirling and whirling. I sat down at that moment, huddling close to Hensley. He laughed full of crooked crocodile spite and began, "Back when I was writing Apocalypse Now, and I tell ya friend, make no mistake, I wrote it...you know them bastards didn't even thank me...I said to them...."

But I was gone, far away from the city and the night and the world, to a place where I was happy. I was happy in a world all by myself, next to some bum, sitting on another world altogether, familiar strangers in a place where we did not want for anything. Life was all I needed and it was all around me.

Copyright © 2002 Derek S. Maples

Derek Maples is an actor/singer/writer from Knoxville Tennessee whose current work includes "From Flack to Pepper-Jack" (a poem published in Millenium Shift e-zine), appearances on community theater stages up the east coast, and a title role in the independent film effort Growing Hair by Corey Meredith, which premiered at Valley Fest in March.