Memories of a Dirty Carney
We all think that we're right some times. When I was a high school grad I thought I was wrong when I was convinced that going to college right away was the only option I should consider. I wanted to keep working at the pizzeria until I could afford it on my own. I didn't want debt. That was five years of changing majors and not being able to cover the loan bills ago. I never did learn what I could have really used. How to find and keep a decent job, how to start one's own business, how to manage others in a profitable manner, how to deal with a depressing sense of failure. What I really needed to know is how to find more options because two month out in the real world you realize if you haven't already, that failure is not only an option it's a norm that you hope to spice occasionally with success. I was right though when I realized it wasn't time.
At least I was ahead of the curve when I knew that you have to work hard for a bunch of stuff you don't really want but can trade for something you do. The real secret is wanting so little and turning down offers for what you have; hold out as long as you can. That's how you learn the real value of you. They said I had a pretty face, the girls in my holding cell. If you could call it that. I got in around midnight and pretended to sleep until they told me I had to get out of bed. then they give you several hours with nothing to do before offering to let you outside. Mostly there was gossip, conversation, showering. I sat on my bed wishing I had a book to read and trying to avoid people. There was a fight over the remote and they took away TV privileges. I didn't get to see myself on the news. I never did understand how I could be news-worthy.
It was a drunk Friday night in the back of my head. Virginia was sleeping on my shoulder. I tried to keep her from choking on vomit as I waited for the poisoning to pass myself. I don't drink, but I find fun ways of faking it. My favourite flask has water in it, in the trunk of my car some tea with green food colouring that smells like absinth and is nasty to swallow. No one drinks what I have; it keeps my secret. But I do get drunk; sort of, on friendship I get happy. Rome came over I thought to check on the girl. Until they prove they can hack it they're just another kid thinks our world is all fun and no consequence. She failed the test tonight and will be gone by tomorrow. No Rome had to be here for something else.
"What can I do For you, Rome?" He sat down and smiled a salesman's smile at me. "Uh-oh, I smell the stench of business. You got something in mind? I'll talk to you about it in the morning when I'm sober."
"Awe I was just hoping you could do me a favor and I'd pay you back."
"What kind of favor? My car doesn't run on IOU's. And girly here isn't staying anywhere without a babysitter." As the only one on the lot with wheels I assumed he was looking for a ride to the store for a midnight cigarette run.
"I heard you were given a gift recently and I was hoping I could take some of it off your hands 'til pay-day." He was talking about a few grams of weed that another carney had given me because he didn't have gas money. I knew it would comer in handy in this world of barter.
"Sorry, not for sale. I'm just holding it for him 'til he comes up with my gas money."
"well it just so happens I'll have his gas money on pay-day."
"well it just might happen that I'll have smoked half of it by then." And in comes the pack of lies. I don't really smoke it often enough. My habit is more of a peace-pipe treaty-style habit. once a month, when I get really short tempered with unimaginable pain I must work too hard through. Held onto for the rare occasion that pain is too detrimental to my basic survival like roof, safe place to sleep, food. "S'matter of fact I was about to pack a bowl now if you wouldn't mind joining me. I'd love to have company." An easy enough ploy, I fully intended to convince him I couldn't possibly sell him anything. But I could help him meet the right people for a nominal finders fee of double the gas money for any ride to go meet them.
The clang of a jail door startled me. My cot was not actually in a cell; rather it was against a wall in the main rec-room of the women’s block.here one guard practically beat off fanticizing about me, undressing me with his eyes. I thought about sneaking over to sleep on the couches in front of the TV some night. They were screaming something about dinnertime and I wasn't hungry. I waited until almost every last tray was gone before grabbing one. I gave away the best parts of the meal and picked at the closest things I could find to meat on the tray before calling it done and offering whatever I had left to the rest. They swarmed it like they were actually hungry. And I set about trying to find a pen and paper. It was a dewy night in the back of my mind with a pet rabbit on a leash and busty Becky holding a cigarette and a beer. And i was wondering where I'd be sleeping that night. My car? The bunk-house where too many wanted a comforting teddy bear? perhaps if I had the gas money and the stamina to go a third night without sleep I could drive to a home that was open and kind to me. No. I needed merely to wrend my mind from everything but the necesity of a meal I'd not had since picking at processed, ham flavored protein dices and something that resembled soy-based macaroni with processed, dairy-free cheese flavoring in water soluable sauce. And I needed to get my strength up to survive the next week. I'd had my pay from the previous two weeks stolen from me and I needed to work very hard to earn again what would be covering my bills. I was tired too. Car it had to be. for sleep. Food in the morning if I could barter a ride for gas money to where I could eat for free. From one cell to another, to have all one own's in the car and nothing of importance or posession, mere facilities not even a private matter. I hate living such a brand of poverty and strove to find work that I may pay bills honourably, on time, legally. Only some narrow-minded fool thinks poverty so distasteful to the extent of making it seem criminal. I repect the law and when people condemn me for turning them away I find it a sad state of existence to in turn for displaying kindness and polite refusal of what amounts to prostitution... To strip a person of humanity and call such a poor wretch unfit to remain in society I believe itself a criminal act. But oppinion has no pull, only logic and law and I broke it to the point where I must have been too dangerous to co-exist with everyone else for a whole Year. A whole year it has been.
Holding favourably two seasonal jobs, one part time that wishes to make me full time and another that wants my nearer living situation that I may benefit their company. I've won a contract for a bid for hire on merit alone and price not factored as well as seen to my bills legitimately and without incident save for a traffic ticket and lawyers bills. No I shouldn't pay off fines. I should be removed from society as I am dangerous to it and unfit to participate in a world where deciet that is distasteful to me and is never an option for myself is what so many engage in daily to draw their own salary. I'm no salesman of false pretenses. I sell hopes and dreams. Something I only sleep about. Dreams. It's been over 72 hoours since I've slept. Sleep it's only a dream. And while so many slumber I worry incessantly about how to find a job, or keep a job, or hide the pain, or find a meal I can afford, or convince a man I'm not for sale. So many dream of posessing me in some way and when I refuse some still stalk me for a dark corner they may take advantage of being in. I'm cautious. But at times, especially in the haze of pain, a failure of caution to the most extreme extent seems favourable to the alternative of sleepless hungry nights, a family that requires fees heavier to bear that those of a rent by the day motel room, a constant barrage of men promising potential employer connection in exchange fore whatever they desire I never stick around for to find out, and the incessant noise noise noise of pounding pain seething and pressing from my very spine through every thought I try clearly to sort out in vein. And I stopped breathing In the night. I heard a pass at the outter door to the holding room. Heard through reinforced window layers, felt through the ground, that voice. That same guard he says he wants me and I hold my breath trying desperately to extiguish life that he may never touch me where I lie confined but that I may find freedom in the extreme of the nothingness that is death. That I may never think or feel again and when I could no longer bear the pain I waited longer to prove I had no limits but my own and I coughed without gasp and saw him shut his eyes from staring at me. The wait til morning was too thick to breathe easy through the pain, fear and lack of humanity. And when they arose and told me I must move I didn't expect any kindness concerning a request for my medication. I received none as well. I've grown on the brink of pain and death and when I seek relief, a request bourne of pure necessity... I shall always remember the lesson that to ask for help is to be stripped and sickened and scared and hopeless and helpless and then on the brink of death to be told that what you have learned and dealt with and become an expert on under penalty of death since five, since three when the phrase penalty of death had bearing, to be told you are not to be trusted with help and are to be treated as an animal who needs house training. To be slave and master through a desperate call for help. to not be trusted enough to take life sustaining medication properly is to feel abused. I feel wronged. It was not my intent not my desire to do anything to end up here. I intended to turn away another man looking for a whore from a women not interested in anything beyond a professional relationship of "I have this frind nneds a job" status. I told him no.
I told him no. He shoved the money back to my face. I told him no. He insisted until I thought to myself. "Did you see? Did you see? You just costed me another fifty dollars I'm supposed to be working here! Leave!" And I tried to walk away. He'd follow, he'd loiter, he'd offer and I'd get scared he'd follow me home and undress me with his hands rather than eyes. And I'd work, nervously, always aware of his constant presence costing me good legitimate business, a concept so few see or realize is life or death.
When I could not reason to anyone that this man was going to kill me, that I needed to work or starve that night, that no one will talk to a pretty girl at a festive event and give her money if she doesn't seem available to give them her attention and happy to meet them with a smile and a kind word. For years you avoid those who want attention for free until they understand you mean it when you say that one must pay to engage in conversation durring the durration of a game. The never came one who would not be avoided or would not leave to spring out of the shadows later.
I remember the night I asked for an escort to my car and got there to find it being watched by a man who to this day calls me, watches me, follows me. No the police couldn't and haven't helped me with that. It has been 10 years and he still tries to corner me.
I fear men. And so many try to befriend me. And I just want to be left alone. To work and come home to sleep safe, to shower daily, perhaps to eat.
I would shelter the homeless. I want to be a safe place to go where there is no fear of insecurity. I want to encourage the dying principals that have maintained my life, discipline and forethought. I want to learn strength in consistency and I want to be a benefit to society. I do try. I want to do more than the occational fund raiser or charity or relay or volunteer work or what-have-you. I want to help many learn how to survive failure and limit themself not by ohters' oppinions nor their supressions, but instead to stay the feeling that death is immanant. I breath, I try again. Somehow. But I try. That was when I was three I learned that lesson. I see it clearly.
At three I was staring at death and coming to terms with it.
At thirteen I realized pain and unhappiness were something I personally wanted no one to ever have to bear. It became my goal to see happiness for all.
Lofty I know but dare to dream. Benjamin Franklin never patented the pencil.