Sunday, April 30, 2017

Violence over midnight street sausage

I am not standing.

I am not lying on the ground nor even sitting, properly speaking, but rather collapsed in a sort of lump – as though I’ve gone boneless – at the base of a lamppost. The lamppost, for its part, is standing in its usual place at the corner of Westheimer and Montrose Boulevard.

The light, way up there at the top of the lamppost, refuses to hold still. It continuously zigs up, back, up, back, like an image from a film projector gone bad. Maybe it’s trying to escape my vodka, who knows?

One-thirty in the morning and I’m drinking with a homeless woman called Banta.

Banta, she has green streaks dyed into her hair, her entire right hand is tattooed solid black or maybe dark blue and she is holding the copy of Blood Meridian I lent her. I’ve brought her A Walk on the Wild Side for next time. I always choose books and alcohol for Banta randomly.

“The author shows evil and then it just exists like anything else,” Banta says. “It’s not punished.”

Everything is going along fine like this until another homeless man stumbles by holding a wad of aluminum foil in his hands. He tries selling us “homemade boudin” for five dollars and that’s when everything goes sideways.

“Five dollars?!” Banta says. She leaps to her feet to take a look. “You crook! Crook!”

The confrontation escalates somehow, on both sides, really, until it appears that it might come to actual blows.

I’m having a much harder time standing up, to intervene I mean, than I had sitting down two hours earlier. Before the vodka. From my lumpen position, I say, “Banta, it’s okay. It’s okay. Let him go. I’ll give you something so you can go and eat at Midtown Grill,” but it is as though she doesn’t even hear me.

The shoving and the cursing, they spill over from the parking lot and onto the sidewalk and there are long honks from cars going by.

There exist methods for getting to my feet in this condition – I know this and I have found them before! – and yet I cannot seem to remember any of them at this particular moment. I push up uselessly with my palms while protesting the senseless violence around me.

Banta says, “You don’t understand, Harry. It’s the principle of the thing.”

I say, “How can it possibly be the principle of the thing?”

I have work in a few hours. I believe it’s time for me to leave, boudin prices be damned.

30 comments:

  1. It's so wrong for a homeless man to charge another homeless person such a high price for Boudin! How DARE he!?! That would come to blows under ANY circumstances. Haha

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    1. I guess I'm not familiar with all of the rules of the street... yet. Sometimes, I just can't figure out how I got into the situation I find myself in...

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  2. A nonjudgmental inquiry--How long did the sobriety actually last?

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    1. I go up to 8 consecutive days without a drink now. Which is better than I did for years. When I do drink - at home and alone, I mean - I generally drink less per night.

      Is that healthier? I don't know. It's sort of a balancing act. Taking breaks seems to change up things vis a vis dependence.

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  3. That's the problem with methods for dealing with alcohol's influence. When you need them you know there's a memory that can teach you what you need to know, but it's just outside of your grasp.

    Imagine though, The Man, smacking you down with its ridiculous capitalism. Everything turns expensive as quickly as you turn poor. You learn to despise The Man's methods. And along comes Some Man, not at all unlike you, except one crucial difference. He indulges in The Man's methods.
    That's the principle of the thing.

    ...also, what the fuck is boudin, and why am I, after looking it up, unsure if that man actually carried any non-live flesh with him?

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    1. Apparently, once in a while at least, people walk down the street trying to sell other people sausage.

      The sausage itself is a Cajun thing, I think.

      Maybe I play it too safe with what I eat.

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  4. I am the kind of person who likes organization and I think if you are planning on any more all night vodka binges with the homeless .and the sausage bearing you need to get organized yourself. 1. Find a place very close to your place of work to have your 'party' 2. prop yourself up between two solid objects or tie yourself in an upright position to one solid object 3. make sure you save enough money for sausage 4. keep a change of clothing and hangover remedies at your desk....That should get you sausage for your lunch and make it easier to crawl into your place of employment the next morning. It's all in the planning my dear...all in the planning.

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    1. Haha. This would have made a much better blog post. Mostly because it would be educational. I could have told my story and taught everyone a skill.

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  5. Putin is to blame for this.


    Somehow. I'm not exactly sure how, but he is definitely to blame for this.

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    1. I think he's using vodka as a weapon to manipulate the cost of boudin on the street in America.

      Obviously, he's a micromanager.

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  6. It's like you drank yourself into a Renaissance painting. It's kind of poetic for a homeless person to be outraged over the market price of boudin. Also, $5 is on the high side. But then again, that is offset by free vodka, so maybe get Banta an economics book next time.

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    1. "It's like you drank yourself into a Renaissance painting."

      Then my work here is done.

      Although I was aiming for something a bit later, I think. Maybe Falstaff from the Shakespeare plays.

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  7. My memory tends to black out when I drink too much. During a trip down to Charleston, South Carolina plantation my wife and I got involved with a wine tasting party. Trouble is no one else had shown up and the bartender had five bottles already uncorked. The bartender pretty much kept refilling our glasses despite the fact that I had to drive back to Columbia.

    Long story short, I remember getting my wife in the car and then driving out of the parking lot. The next thing I remember was getting her inside the house after the two hour drive.

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    1. Yeah, that sounds like ti would be scary to think about later on. I don't black out, although sometimes I sort of think it would make life easier.

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  8. This post made me think of my grandfather. He was an alcoholic who ran a bar (never a good idea for obvious reasons). But, more to the point, he had this windup toy of a drunk clutching a lamp post who would sing or fall down or something when wound up. Your lamp post reminiscence acted like a madeleine for me.

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    1. What is it with drunks and lamp posts?

      Maybe it's just that they're more reliable than chairs.

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  9. The wheels of commerce would grind to a halt if everyone adopted Banta's approach.

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    1. I agree. I mean, isn't the fact that it was being delivered right to her worth something?

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  10. Just one look at boudin is enough to turn me into a vegan teetotaler. That... does not look pleasant. Nor worth $5.

    This was very Bukowski-ish. Just don't go FULL Bukowski on us, okay? There's only so much Schadenfreude a guy can handle before he downright feels bad about it.

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    1. This is sort of Accidental Bukowski. I finished with my Bukowski period a while back.

      When I try and emulate someone, no one recognizes it. Then, when I don't, people see another writer in me right away.

      I promise not to beat up any women, though.

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  11. This is funny to me personally as "sausage" used to be a euphemism for "handgun" among the crowd I run with...

    -Doug in Oakland

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    1. Haha. Thank goodness no, in this case.

      Myself, I thought the guy might be prostituting himself and using that as a euphemism.

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  12. Super craze.This story really impressed me.It has sort of a magic,humbleness in it.I feel the act of banda is the right one and we r cowardly to not protest against capitalist thieves.ha ha this post made me dream about vodka.I have drank it before years and most probably it is not a vodka at all but a fake one as we could not afford original one.Here in our state brandy,rum,whisky,vodka all will have exactly the same taste because they all r fake though genuine imported items like bacardy to is available sometimes.You r a interesting character.I like u,I like u very much.I wish u were my neighbour ha ha.

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    1. Hi, Arun. I would imagine that everyone wants guys who get fall-down drunk with homless people to live right next door!

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  13. I've never liked vodka, sadly my 18 year old does, but she doesn't have to hold down a job. Hope you managed to work the next day.

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    1. I can always manage to get into work the next day. Of course, it might be a lot easier if my evenings were a bit more wide-eyed.

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  14. I didn't know what boudin was. I had to look it up! Banta sounds like a good woman! I like her!

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    1. Fantastic! This post is educational, sort of.

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  15. Banta brought to mind Lola la Gringa, a disturbed woman that used to walk around my village with a bag full of... stuff--everything from drink to glue to things we couldn't identify. She was very intelligent, and accountant for a meatpacking company when she was sober. When she was in the clouds, she did a lot of strange things on principle.

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    1. Lola la Gringa is a great name. I'm fascinated by these people I meet out on the street, but I understand that many (most?) of them are suffering from things that should not be romanticized.

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