I step off the bus in front of Jack’s Casino, lost somewhere in the
business district of Cleveland, Ohio. The black man nods to me as I
step off the bus, a little unsure of where I’m at. In my wallet is 27
cents, and an ID that says I’m from Toledo. To where I’m going I have
no idea, tho how I got here I know too well.
The voices tell every year to leave, and every year I oblige. It’s
everything I want and everything I hate. An adventure of a lifetime, a
trip into the jungle without a knife. And here I am walking down
corridors of blinking lights and sounds of bleeps and boops, hell if
there is one. Some people have fun here tho.
Back in Toledo the casino I went to had free pop. I preferred mixing
coke zero with a splash of lemonade, a trick my father taught me. When
I was really bored I’d walk around the circular paths of that casino
staring at movie stars on posters from Hollywood of old and wondering
how many miles my feet could put in.
There’s no free pop here. No circular path. Just fat men with guts
busting over the arcade machines with cards stuck in a slot and
attached to their lanyard] that’s clipped to their red
and white striped polos. They usually have mustaches.
I take a shit downstairs and say a prayer. It’s a lie and I know it
but it sounds good. I probably should pray more.
Back outdoors a voice tells me to head down Payne St., one I’ve never
seen before. I again oblige and head down a path I know will lead
somewhere, perhaps even death.
But I know there’s a river coming, or maybe it’s a lake. I’m pretty
sure Cleveland sits on the edge of water, tho my geography is a little
hazy. And sure as shit I keep walking until I hit that bead of water,
staring out over a cold horizon in front of a parking garage. I’ve
been here before tho last time it was with my brother Patrick on a
trip to the Hard Rock Cafe.
And that’s when I know I’m safe. And I know this isn’t schizophrenia.
No bipolar disorder. And damn well not depression. This is guidance,
perhaps from an asshole, but one that will get me somewhere.
Earlier that day someone told me there was a homeless shelter on 2100
Lakeside, somewhere I had no clue how to find. And yet I’m now on the
side of the Lake, and damn if it isn’t obvious that’s a fucking lake
I’m staring at, tho I might as well call it the Atlantic Ocean.
I won’t swim this time tho, perhaps never will. I’ve been to Canada,
daydreamed about Mexico, and will never touched Europe. But I’m 30 and
white male, unemployed, and now free from my mom’s house. And that is
all I need to know for the moment, and hopefully all I’ll ever
remember of my 30 years past.
to be continued…