Travelin’ Hobos

Not what I saw a few days ago

So it snowed in Nashville a few days ago. This isn’t something I’m completely used to yet, as every time it’s snowed in Nashville, I’ve either been in Smyrna, Knoxville, or England.

Smyrna doesn’t count, as that’s a hell hole from whence nothing good can come.

Knoxville counts, but I was drunk most of the time, so I couldn’t tell you much more than snow is something to be avoided when you’ve been hitting the whiskey.

England most definitely counts, since Canterbury was turned into Hoth last January, and I had a blast schlepping up the hill in sub-zero temperatures and amazing my Chinese flatmates with my ability to withstand cold.

Of course, this being Nashville, and thus, in my reckoning, the tropics, the snow didn’t last long. For the most part, it melted when it hit the pavement and provided little more than hope and a semi-visual indicator of which way the wind was blowing.

But it also had something else. As I left the office in the early afternoon to get some green tea (China Green Tips, good stuff), I looked out to the Fifth Third Bank plaza – you know, the one by the church with the huge plaque listing how many times its burned down – and saw a homeless man dressed in black running around catching snowflakes on his tongue.

The church, not the homeless man

It was one of those sights that made me glow just a bit. I thought about how great it was that being a kid stayed with a person through it all. How, deep down inside, we all want to stay young, back when we were innocent and thought that, yes, throwing water on a raging citronella candle was a good idea, just before it burned down a childhood home and we had to shift blame on neighbors to avoid getting charged with arson.

I bought the tea, headed back to the office, and told a coworker.

She nodded sagely and said, “That’s Will. Will has a severe case of schizophrenia. He’s probably off his meds.” Then she turned back to her computer and went back to work.

I stood there for a few seconds, my buzz thoroughly killed.

“Shouldn’t you get back to work?” She asked.

“Indeed,” I said, walking back to my desk.

A while later, as I ran out of stuff to do, I went in search for fun.

Luckily, my friend Chris was on GMail. I told him about the homeless guy and his response was, “Man, I wish I was that carefree.”

Then, as it often does, the conversation segued into the batshit insane and we started pretending to be hobos. My name was Deuce Bagels Lonson, and his was Pocketwatch McFlapperson, aka Flappy.

That’s what this post is about. If it helps, imagine the following as being between to hobos who’ve hijacked a couple of library terminals, one in Nashville, one in… fuck, I dunno, Chicago:

Duece Bagels Lonson: I’ve got plenty of bad hoboing sticks., but I think I left my last one on that train out of Saint Looey a ways back
Pocketwatch McFlapperson:  I was comin from Nantucket when i lost mine
DBL:  Yeap. That line outta Nantucket’ll getcha. Them workers up that ways is a bunch a hard cases. You know Maggot-Laden Bill?

PMF:  Sad news friend, Maggot-Laden Bill passed away about a fortnight ago, he fell asleep in a grain car and they buried him in it.

DBL:  Y’know, I ain’t that surprised at all. I hain’t heard from Maggot-Laden Bill for more’n a month, n he usually keeps good control of his rats what send messages. Damn shame, though. Made good shine.

Maggot-Laden Bill in one of his manic moods.

PMF:  Depending on the nature of the message he would either send me his rats Pinky or Brain That was the best shine though if you werent careful ya could go blind quicker than the southwest line to Albuquerque

DBL:  An that’s a quick line, that is. Reckon we’ll have us a vijil? Reckon we should, MLB was a good friend to most.

PMF:  I hear most are using a black hobo sack for the holiday season in honor of MLB, he was a simple man I dont think hed want more than that

DBL:  Yep, reckon I should go scavenge me some black cloth, then. Ain’t got anythin black, only red, on account a if you wear black er blue yer lible to get run down by a truck. Bet you know that, though, since you been out on the rails n highways since ’48.

PMF: I try and avoid black, but i aint gonna turn down any clothing when it gets colder than Sasquatch’s testicles out there.  warm is warm

DBL:  Gdamn right. Snowin down here in Nash, and that ain’t a normal thing. Lickin Ted, you know, him what married Flashin Barbara, was running roun the capital tryin ta build a snowman. Had ta tell him he had to wait till the snow stuck, be he just peed at me and I walked away. Ain’t no sense in talkin to him when he’s in a peein mood

PMF:  I dont believe i ever encountered that fellow, i used to know booby barb if thats who ya are talkin about.  age has made her a bit saggy if ya catch my drift

DBL:  Gul dernit, yer right she was once called Booby Barb. Her an Lickin Ted met up in Cincy back in the summer a ’69 n started up their racket a crow feathers that winter. A course, they didn’t get nothin fer em, cause the crow feather market crashed ’70, but after that, I reckon they went down to Georgy, way outta yer way, which is why you don’t know Lickin ted

PMF: The names Pocketwatch McFlapperson, but you can call me Flappy

DBL:  Deuce Bagels Lonson, on account a I used ta have a problem where I’d poop on bagels if I saw em.

DBL:  I reckon if the weather keeps up like this, Licky Ted might get down sick and we’d have to vote whether he’d live er die er not. Way I see it, that’s all the health care you need.

PMF: I say every man should live until his maker takes him from this earth, who are we to vote on his life. we are living the hobo lifestyle in order to be free and feel the rustle of cool country air in our hair as we ride the santa fe

DBL:  True as that might be, but you can’t have someone hurlin blood on ya when yer in the park tryin to have a nice meal a half-eaten meat. That’s how the Great Blood Sickness of ’93 got started, and us folk in Nash is just gettin over it. Santa Fe ‘r’ not, I’d rather not puke up blood on acct of some idjit what thought it were a good idea to fuck a feral cat.

PMF:  Oh i didnt hear your mother was in town?  When did she get in?
DBL:  That ain’t a good thing to say at’tall, specially since my mother done fell down a cliff in ’23 when she was drunk.

PMF:  Ah, so thats why your Mum walks a limp now.  Bit too much of the shine i recon As far as the blood sickness goes, just gotta be careful with what ya stick in your pie hole there Bagels
DBL:  Reckon so, reckon so. Might just have to leave off eatin the blood cocktails Blood-Coughin Carl makes up.

***

In the real world, I went for lunch. In the fake, bizarre, hobo world, we can safely assume that Deuce Bagels Lonson succumbed to the blood sickness and died right there at the computer terminal.

He always did love technology. Some said he had a degree in computer engineering. Others said ole DBL just thought the computers were talking to him. Reckon we’ll never know.

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