“Excerpt with a Homeless Man” by Michael Aaron Casares

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Introduction This week’s piece is confessional in tone. It may not have happened or not exactly this way, but the matter-of-factness and the slice-of-life quality creates a sense of voyeurism in the reader. It requires the reader to consider the topic of homelessness, unfortunately a ubiquitous one. But it is a complex issue which brings up side discussions such as the question of “work.” Do we not value money over work? Have we gotten off track in this way? While you may or may not agree with the character's closing remarks, they do make you think.

Send in your stories, your prose poems, your short Kafkaesque aphorisms. Will publish for work: flashfiction@sacurrent.com.

—Lyle Rosdahl

“Excerpt with a Homeless Man” by Michael Aaron Casares I got off the bus on Travis St. next to a small park that was a hang-out for all the bums and vagrants. The vagrants weren’t too bad in this city, at least not in my experience and you could shoo them off easy with a stiff glare and pursed lips. One time I was standing outside a nightclub after a rock concert and a drunken hobo came meandering by. I was busy talking with my friends and I suppose he thought I was talking to him and he just yelled out, “What you say, boy?” I was taken aback at first, but then I manned up and shot back forcefully, “I wasn’t talking to you.” His eyes glazed over and he turned and started walking, mumbling to himself again as he had been before his mistaken moment of lucidity. I don’t know what I would have done if he had decided to pursue a confrontation, but in a way I’m glad. I had only been in one fight on the streets. I ignored the people sitting in the park, waiting at the bus line for their next meal. Of course they asked for money but I didn’t have any to give them. It wasn’t safe to give out money to one in front of their friends because then they would all ask you for money and for some reason the homeless tended to have a photographic memory and they could spot you out of a crowd if they knew you had a giving hand. I felt bad for most of them. Sometimes I wondered why they chose to do it. Sometimes I think some of them really believed that they had no alternative, especially the ones that had a fit with the government. I talked to one once who told me that he wasn’t gonna work because the government was taxing his income and taking money out of his pocket and putting it into the pocket of bankers that didn’t even live in America, bankers who didn’t even like America. He said as long as they are going to do that, as long as they are going to continue to be un-American and break the laws of the Constitution that he wasn’t gonna work and pay for their condos and face lifts. I told him he was wrong and that working was good and that that is what we were supposed to do because of the law. He laughed in my face and told me there was no such law and that I needed to grow a mind of my own and find out the truth. Most people believe they are crazy, homeless people. Of course I thought that if what the man was saying was true, he wasn’t giving himself any credibility by living on the streets. No one would believe him and things would never change.

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