Sunday, February 06, 2005

Pennys

Ok. Ive never had compassion for the homeless for the most part. I realize that sometimes you can get down and out and its VERY hard to pick your own ass up and start over. Look, I havent been able to find a solid job for 2 years. But I didnt give up and go sleep on the heating vents. I do however realize that anyone older then me is most likely wiser. Im sure I could learn a lesson or two if I spent some time with someone who was homeless, but well, I dont have the fuckin time. Here is a short story of a man who decided that even in homelessness he wouldnt be alone. Im going to call him Crazy Coin for this story.

I was walking to a concert about 10 years ago. There is a fountain downtown Roanoke that is just a big bowl looking concrete hole with a single huge spout of water that comes out of it. In the summer time its an often occurance to see the homeless bathing in it. Ok thats good, they bathe anywhere and Im happy about it. Of course the cops drag them out of there and throw their wet asses in jail. Im sure they appreciate it. They get towels and food there. But there is one hardcore member of the homeless crew that does this year round. Crazy Coin. He carries a mason jar full of pennies.

As I was walking by, close enough to finally see and hear him, I observed that he was hugging the penny jar. "Everything is going to be ok when the plane gets here" he told the pennies. "WHAT? What the fuck do you mean there are no planes coming?"
"Fuck you Erma" (yes the wad of pennies seems to have taken on a single identity for him) "Ill kill you you whore"

I kind of smiled and shook it off until I heard a splashing noise. I turned around and seen him holding an empty mason jar. Id estimate that there are about 5 dollars in pennies in that container.

"Im so sorry Erma you cunt but you asked for it that time" Then he began picking up the pennies again. Fishing each and every one of them out the water. (This was in March by the way, very fucking cold)

I walked on and went to my Metallica concert thinking about Crazy coin.

After the show I had to walk back to my car, past Crazy coin again. By the time I got to where he was, he was holding the jar and crying and rocking it like a baby. But still calling it a whore. About the time I was almost past where he sat in the water. I heard the splash again. This time he yelled loud enough for most of downtown to hear him. "Bitch if you ever call me a cocksucker again Ill kill you with my bare hands" Again with the fishing them out of the water.

The only thing I can imagine is wrong with him is that first, he has an incredible case of Turrets, and that his dead wife Erma, probably played one too many games of 52 card pick up with him.

It affected me too a bit I guess. When any of my friends sees a penny on the ground they screech and pick it up as if they had found the holy grail. I never touch them. I always remember Crazy coin and wonder what he might have been doing with those pennies when no one was looking. I dont know what happened to the penny man (what we all called him back then) But if he died, I guess that gives new meaning to the phrase Pennies from Heaven.

6 comments:

Azathoth said...

I've talked with some of the lost before. I do not envy them thier lives. May the day come when no one needs to live like that.

Gama said...

That's sad of how many people are without a home, here in Houston there's too many of them living under freeways, or on the streets.

Bookend said...

I've always had a little too much compassion for them...call me sensitive...but anyway...I would guess that this man had serious mental health issues...

I used to work in an MH/MR (mental health/mental retardation) residential program. You see many cases similar to this man's. I worked there for 4 years...it was heartbreaking...and emotionally draining...but all of those people have taught me very valuable lessons about life...and one was never take for granted the life I've lived and what lies ahead...because they aren't all born that way...sometimes all it takes is a head injury...

Wycked Twyzted Fantasy said...

I too have seen the man and his pennies in roanoke...its almost like im not even in roanoke if i dont happen to see him wandering around when im there...

Joy said...

Kewl. Another person who has witnessed penny mam! Its been so long since I seen him I didnt know if/where he was around at now.

Joy said...

Yea I also have a close to home story there Bookend. I just try not to let the intricicies of life get me down or hold me personally responsible. I actually gave up a psychology degree because of the diversity of issues there are. My biological mother, uncle, and 2 sisters all have fetal alcohol syndrome. I was a misplaced teenager, I wanted to help other teenagers, I just wasnt willing to jump through the loops and do "therapy" internship with old ladies who bitched about their hubbys not buying them jag's for their b-days to get there.