i never missed toledo until i was homeless

Sitting in the day room at 6:30, my head still abuzz from the night fog

that is an unfinished night’s sleep. Men gather for the smoke, the

ritual that keeps all of us going, and eventually is our end.

 

We sit in gazes while some men roll cigarets. Others play cards, while a

white dude with a goatee and shaved head folds laundry.

 

One guy who looks like a cutout from Goodfellas shuffles cards with a

loud crunch, his face intent. I invite myself into a game, hoping to

play spades. He says he’s waiting to play poker then gives me the

silent treatment. I can take a hint.

 

My stomach growls a bit and I daydream about breakfast. During the

week we have something hot, my favorite being eggs with sausage and

seasoned potatoes. Yesterday was Saturday tho and we had two danishes:

I had cheese and strawberry.

 

I don’t know what we have on Sundays, but I know I won’t bitch. My

first night in Cleveland I stole a turkey and cheese sandwich from the

Greyhound bus station then walked for an hour in the cold and finally

walked in front of a cop car just to get its attention. My plan was to

go to the hospital, then get into the homeless shelter.

 

The cop asked what was going on, and I told him the truth. I was

hearing voices. I can’t explain it, but the voices convinced me to

come here to Cleveland, a shitty city if there was one. I enjoy the

architecture.

 

I can’t prove it yet, but I know I don’t have schizophrenia. And

that’s all I have to say about that at the moment.

 

But getting back to my story, the cop pulls to the side of the road,

lights blaring. He asks what’s the matter, and soon I’m in the back of

his car, fortunately not in handcuffs.

 

He drops me off at a hospital, the name of it slips my mind at the moment.

There I’m served with the usual treatment: a barrage of questions that

all end in “no” and then an invite to sit in a room with uncomfortable

plastic chairs meant for torture. As usual when waiting in the torture

room, I can’t sit down but circle the small floor, just waiting to

pass out on a hospital bed. A nurse keeps yelling at me to sit down,

and before I know it I’m brought into a room where I’m strapped down

to a bed.

 

I can’t explain the torture of being strapped down other than to say

it’s like staring death in the face. Men hold you down while the

executioner, always slow and methodical, takes each strap to the joint

of the limbs, securely and tightly tying down the ankles and wrists

while you feel the guillotine slowly hack saw your head off.

 

This time is different tho. There’s only two straps—one for my left

ankle and one for my right wrist. I don’t feel the guillotine this time

either but just safe defeat knowing I finally have a bed to lay on.

I’m also able to turn onto my right side with this set up, and without

having to scream or feel the executioner’s cold hands snap the wrist,

I’m out.

 

The rest lasts no more than an hour tho before I’m awoken by another

nurse who has another round of questions. She asks if I want to leave

that night, and knowing full well how bad and torturous those

hospitals are, I say yes.

 

I ask how to get out of the straps. She tells me nonchalantly they just have to be

unbuckled. My right hand is already free–a voice during the night

explained to me how to pull my wrist out. Again, I know this isn’t

schizophrenia. Maybe a government, maybe an agency, maybe just one

wicked imagination, but the voice always comes and gives me guidance.

 

The man also asks me if I want to be his slave for another two years.

I say yes without hesitation, full well aware what I’m getting into.

I’ve been thru torture and hazing and pain. It doesn’t matter what you

do to stop it, it will come. I know it will end tho because God does

deliver us from our situations. That might be a lie.

 

 

Back out in the cold I feel rested and safe despite being lost. I walk

into a hotel lobby and buy a coke that costs a dollar. I only have 60

cents but the cashier shrugs and takes the change. Never seen that

before.

 

From there I find the Greyhound bus station again and find warmth

inside. I pass out on the floor of the station next to a wall and

finally get some sleep, only to be awoken a couple of hours later by

an attendant warning me a line will be forming where I sleep.

 

From there I find a bench to lay on, one in front of a TV. CNN is

being broadcast, and the newscaster announces with alarment that

Wikileaks has just released documentation proving the CIA has been

hacking phones and TVs. Again, I’m not convinced I have schizophrenia nor

paranoia.

 

 

My rest is peaceful and necessary. Instead of being manic, walking

around for 3 days, and being locked in a hospital, I’m sane and calm

on a bench. I sleep close to 4 hours and am awoken to a security

guard demanding my ticket. I tell him I don’t have one and he tells me

to get out.

 

Before I leave I head into the bathroom for a morning piss, only to be

followed by the faggot into the bathroom. As I piss he demands I leave

and I try to explain that I just have to use the restroom. I finish

and zip and exit the building, aware I’m being followed.

 

Outside a man asks for a quarter. I explain I have none.

 

Another man walks up to me and tells me there’s a hotel I can stay

during the morning to get out of the cold. Confused about why he’s

talking to me and trying to help, I follow the man. It’s unusual and

can’t be explained. How does he know my situation? How does he know I

have nowhere to go?

 

I’ve seen these things happen before, things that shouldn’t. It’s like

being in a movie or a dream. Men start telling me things I shouldn’t

know about. People start acting strange. Locked doors unlock

themselves. You’ll call me crazy, but I know I’m being protected and

tortured by the same people, the one’s in my head. It’s why I’m here.

 

And just as the situation can’t get weirder, the man walks into the

hotel and gets into an argument with the security guard who calmly

explains to the man that people aren’t allowed to stay in the lobby.

 

I don’t know why the man even brought me here. I knew this would

happen. The hotel is some fancy shmancy place, and this is a black man

in a carhartt and steel toed boots. Why the hell is he even talking to

me?

 

I go to leave, annoyed by the whole situation, but the man follows me,

now telling me there’s a casino I can go to. I follow him again, not

really sure what else to do.

 

As we walk down the street I seem a man laying on the ground, possibly

asleep. Possibly dead. Smoke drifts out of a sewer cap. The man I’m following tells

me to leave him alone.

 

We gather in a bus stop under one of those plastic shelter things with

a bench. I have no idea what the hell they’re called. I don’t have a

dime to my name but I sit there quietly, waiting for what’s next.

 

A bus pulls up and the man walks on. I follow him and tell both him

and the driver I don’t have any money. The man mumbles something

and the driver says he’ll only do this one time. And with that I catch

a free ride in Cleveland, Ohio. And fuckit, I’ve never seen that

before.

 

to be continued…

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About Michael Medlen

My name is Michael and during my free time I avoid having a day job. Strangely enough, this gives me the freedom to run this blog. I write just about anything that can be considered art. I also occasionally post articles that may or may not be relevant to the theme of this site. You’ve been warned.
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