I am thrust into a new state of being. Homeless. I am no longer in D.C. or the U.S. or North America. I am Homeless.
It is a thing unto itself. I find that I don’t know the economy or the language or the rules.
Many of the names given to me by this ragtag crew have multiple meanings on the street. Some, I have not yet sussed out. Most, I learned through humiliation and regard for the obvious.
Otis, so named for living in an elevator for a year and a half, took me to a meth dealer when I asked about Glow. It was an induction of sorts. A proof that I had little credibility on the streets. It was information for Stipple and the others to test my authenticity.
The crew proves difficult to lose, even for an hour. Someone latches on to me every morning, switching out in the late afternoon. I have no opportunity to research the urban dictionary I sorely need, let alone search my own status.
The monotony of each day threatens to rob me of my secrets. The others spin yarns. Who knows the measure of truth in them? I beg off from storytelling. I say it’s not my forte. They mock my use of forte.
This morning, a good two weeks into my stay with the crew, June-Bug asks if she can hang out. I don’t have a choice, really, so I just shrug.
“I’m not having the baby or nothin’,” she says.
“Okay,” I say, though it hadn’t occurred to me that was a possibility.
Silence settles in as June-Bug bites her cuticles. She seems younger than sixteen, even with her swollen belly.
“Have you ever gone window shopping?” I work at keeping my tone light and spare. She has made it know that she will receive no pity.
“What’s that?” June-Bug jumps from her perch.
“Its when you stroll through a shopping district looking in the windows for things you like.”
“To steal?” She seems intrigued and I am about to let her down.
“No, just to, you know, dream. To remember how things were before.”
“How things was before?” June-Bug laughs hollowly. “Never bought nothin’ from looking through a window.”
I take a light air. “It’s boring around here, don’t you think? Come on. It’ll get us out of this warehouse for a while.” I want her to agree to get out of this musty cell.
“If I walk too much, my feet swell up like balloons.”
She hasn’t said no.
“We’ll come back whenever you want,” I say.
She smiles, her teeth straight and impressively white. She may not have gone window shopping, but she’s seen a dentist plenty of times. Maybe she’s been shamed. Maybe she is a way through this. A starting ground for my next phase. I won’t know until we bond somehow.
“Let’s do this!” June-Bug says. I see a new brightness in her. This might even be fun. Stranger things have happened.