The homeless man took a hit of crystal meth and let the drug do its thing. He was instantly happy, a false happy, but happy nonetheless. He smiled a goofy smile at his friend, Brett. They both were high now.
“Like Modest Mouse sang, let’s just float on, man,” said Brett. He was all jittery, his hands and arms bouncing around in every direction. His eyes were the color of wet cement. He was short and stout, a strung-out fire hydrant.
The homeless man laughed to himself. He loved Brett like he loved his real brother Richard, whom he hadn’t seen in five years. Last he heard, Richard was a bank manager or something like that. They stopped talking when Tim found his true love, crystal meth. “Float on, huh?”
“Yeah, man, smoke and float and don’t forget we’ll always be broke.” Brett laughed at his own poetic rambling.
The homeless man said: “I saw a bike out in front of the library. You wanna steal it?”
Brett eyeballed him. “No, man, one bike for two people doesn’t work. And we can’t recycle it because of that fucking copper you stole from that new house last year. They know us down there.” He took a hit, his cheeks sinking in like a deflated balloon. “Let’s go to The Mission and see what kind of slop they’re serving today. I’m starving.”
The homeless man also took another hit. “Sounds good. Maybe Little Ceasars gave them a bunch of pizzas like last Tuesday.”
“That would be sweet, man”
They walked side by side the half-mile to The Mission. Both wore dungy backpacks filled with winter clothes. Their breath misted as they talked. “One day, we’ll get an apartment together instead of sleeping in that abandoned house. We’ll have a fridge stuffed with food, and cable, and two soft beds. Yeah, man, some fucking day. And girls, too. We’ll have parties every night and invite every girl we know, even Rachel.” Brett grinned at his buddy. “Yeah, I see the way you look at her at the library. Trust me, man, someday.”
Brett was such a dreamer, thought the homeless man, who was more of a realist. But he let his friend fantasize because it gave him something that was hard to find on the streets, hope. And he was right about Rachel. She was a stunner, but she worked at the library, why would she be interested in a homeless loser? He didn’t say that to Brett, though, all he said was “someday.”
After eating fried chicken, corn, applesauce, and a chocolate chip cookie, they moved on from The Mission.
“You wanna go to the bando on Erie Boulevard or the one on Franklin?” Brett asked.
“Franklin, the windows aren’t busted out, it’s a little warmer, plus it’s more secluded, fewer eyes on us.”
“Franklin it is, my man.”
As they walked the two miles to the house, the homeless man thought about his friend. They met at a church lunch seven years ago. Brett told him his story, one about drug abuse and a dad who messed him up when he was drunk, either with a belt or his fists. He ran away from home at sixteen and has been slumming ever since. He remembered the time Brett saved him from getting beat up by two college kids while he was rooting through a dumpster. His friend ran over with a stick in his hand and whipped the shit out of those rich kids. The homeless man smiled at the memory. They were friends for life after that incident. If you saw Brett, you saw the homeless man by his side at soup kitchens, the library, bandos, and the day labor place. They were a single, drug-addicted unit.
They reached Franklin just as it was getting dark outside. They both pulled out a sleeping bag and crawled inside. They were coming down from their high and sleep was the only answer until tomorrow morning, when Brett would most assuredly come up with a plan to get some cash for more meth for the two of them.
The homeless man began to drift off, his mind stuck on his good-hearted friend and the pretty librarian, Rachel. As Brett said, he thought, someday. Some damn day.
Two weeks later, after staying high all that time, they met a homeless outreach worker named Pamela. She offered to connect them to services to help them like case management, drug rehab, and housing. They had hit rock bottom and this lady was giving them a rope to climb out of their hole. The homeless man glanced at Brett, who simply nodded. They filled out the paperwork. They made an appointment for next week for a mental and drug assessment.
They were a step closer to fixing their lives. Was today their ‘someday’?
Chris Milam lives in Middletown, Ohio. His stories have appeared in Jellyfish Review, JMWW, Lost Balloon, Ellipsis, Molotov Cocktail, Bending Genres, and elsewhere. You can find him on Twitter @Blukris.