I was just waiting on the line at the Dollar Store this morning. The guy on line in front of me was talking to this other guy: “Hey, did you hear? The Hate Man died on Sunday. Yeah. The famous person from Berkeley. I just heard about it 5 minutes ago on CBS. Hate Man lived in People’s Park for years and years. He used to be a reporter for the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post. . . ”
I thought I was gonna start crying right there in the fucking store.
* * * *
The worst thing is. It’s now 6:30 in the evening. And I’ve drunk the first half of my 40 of OE. And now this is the time of the evening when — for just about every evening for the last 10 years — I’d walk over to Hate Camp at the top of People’s Park. And I’d pull up a blue milk crate to sit on. And I’d buy a cigarette from Hate Man for 50-cents (Virginia Slims 120 menthols, naturally — a man’s man cigarette — “Come to Virginia Slims Country!” — we’re rugged “street people” after all). . . And I’d tell Hate the latest gossip from my day. And he’d tell me the latest gossip from his day. And by the time I finished the rest of my 40, I’d be ready for my next 40. And several more Virginia Slims to go with it, naturally. And yet another evening of the usual madness would start to unfold.
Except now. I was just getting ready to go check in with Hate. Like I’ve done a thousand times before. Only now. I realize. I no longer have any place to go.