Eugene Called Me-

Last night I was reading and Stephanie was doing patient paperwork.  My phone rang at 10 which was a bit of a surprise.  Stephanie answered because it said Eugene, and Stephanie and I are trying to get to know Eugene together. She answered the phone, “Hi. This is Stephanie, Corey’s friend who gave you a ride to The Friendly Kitchen.” “Oh hi Stephanie, is Corey alright?” “Corey is fine Eugene, why do you ask?”  “Well Corey told me we would see each other at the Kitchen tonight.”  “Oh let me give the phone to Corey.  Corey will let you know what happened.  Take care, Eugene.”  She handed me the phone and I said, “This is the prince.”  “Why weren’t you at the kitchen tonight like you mentioned earlier?” “Oh sorry Eugene, I should have probably called you.  Irene said everyone was going to be there I wasn’t needed and to come on Thursday.  I am sorry I really should have given you a ring. Hey, may I ask? Did you speak to your daughter on Sunday?” “Oh yes I called her, I really surprised too! She even called me yesterday, just she said because she could”  My eyes welled up, I realize how raw I am these past weeks. “That is so great, Eugene! Now you can call her whenever you want.  Just watch the minutes, do you know how to do it?”  “Yes I watch the minutes and this here phone gives me 3x the minutes of one price! My daughter told me she would send a minute card every other month.  She wants to talk to me more I guess” “Eugene that is great, between your daughter and me we will keep that phone ringing. Eugene I don’t want to be disrespectful, I say this because I care, what you do is your business but I wouldn’t let someone go off with your phone.  There is just no way to get it back if they didn’t return it.”  “Corey, now you listen to me.  I live in these streets, and I don’t trust a person no matter what.  This is no easy way to live, and people will do whatever they can to take advantage of someone nice.   I say this about me, but also to you.  You are not to save the world do you understand me?” “Yes, I am sorry Eugene I upset you much.  I also have never helped anyone like you out before.  That is why I volunteered at the Friendly Kitchen. I do consider you my friend, and want to help you out if it’s okay with you.” “Corey I appreciate it and yes I will let you help me out when I am out.  Right now I need to hang up, the cops are coming to make us move. I will see you at the store on Thursday night. Good bye Corey.”

With that the phone went dead.  Stephanie, Julia Bleu and I were all comfy in our warm bed.  I thought through my angry tears, where is Eugene going to be tonight, when I put my head on the pillow?

Oh my God, everything just seemed so wrong. Us in our place, filled with clothes, furniture, electronics, and packed to the gills with food. With a huge empty bedroom to boot, this was all wrong. I know I cant save the world, even Eugene, or probably myself. I thought how I should probably do something about the extra bedroom.  All it had in it was all my electronics for trading.  But getting a roommate I have to be sensitive to my daughter.  Also, I am not 6 foot six and two hundred forty pounds.

Sometimes the inequities seem so unfair I can  barely stand it. How could I have all I do, and yet Eugene, be trying to survive another night on the street.  I leaned on Stephanie, she knew I was upset.  “Corey Britton your heart is so big.  Oh I just want to make you feel better and take away all the hurt you carry for this world.”  Stephanie, I appreciate it I really do. I feel so lucky to have you, you have no idea.  Could you do me a favor tomorrow?” “Sure sweetie, what is it?”  “Can you drive me to Cross Roads the shelter in Portsmouth?  I want to see what they need and  if there is any other way for me to get involved.”  “Sure I will take you in the morning, and drop you off at school.  That way you can sign up for classes right away.” “Thank you Stephanie, can we go to bed? I just want you to hold me this really hurts my brain when I think hard about it.” “Sure, let me shut the lights off, and you need to take your pain pills I will bring you a drink.”

I got into my pjs and fluffed up our pillows and put Stephanie’s computer on the floor. She came in all ready for bed.  Handed me a drink and gave me my pills.  I took them all at once, and said, “Thank you. I love you Stephanie it makes me so happy you care about Eugene.  I don’t know what I would do without you, I honestly don’t.” “Corey, I love and adore you so much and for so many reasons.  But your big caring heart after that face is impossible not to love.”

I turned off the light, and snuggled up to Stephanie. I felt so overwhelmed I silently began to cry. I couldn’t stop thinking about my friend Eugene. Did he ever put his head on a pillow?  Did he ever have anyone to snuggle him through the night.  Sadness and urgency filled my hurting tired body. I would see what I could do or give tomorrow at Cross Roads.  I said my prayers, and included a special one just for Eugene: Dear God please give Eugene a safe place to sleep tonight.  I cried until I fell asleep.  This life is hard-its hard on me.  I wonder if anyone else feels like I do: feels the pains of the world so ugly all around me.

-Corey

BORN THIS WAY-2016

Homelessness and My Friend Eugene

Over the past couple weeks I have blogged this elderly man named Eugene.  I met outside the store where I go get my coffee to begin the Maniac’s Hours or now even Corey’s Chronicles hours, as it would be today.  Writing at 3 pm to 7 pm is so new to me.  I don’t have a routine and I am ill equipped without my golden elixir…..oh wait I have one more Adderall left for today. I just went and got coffee, so I will now ingest my second golden elixir of the day.

In anticipation of Corey’s Chronicles hours, I grabbed Julia Bleu around 2:40 pm. We were running behind, but I knew I needed a coffee, and so much more fatefully awaited my second trip to the store in not so many hours.  Waiting outside sitting all by himself, was Eugene, my friend who is homeless; who I promised to help out.  I don’t think I have ever quite showed such ignorance, when I blogged about the epidemic of homelessness and suggested a fucked up pretentious idea; wait till I finish my PhD to sit at a table and discuss the plight of homelessness without ever getting dirty. I am so grateful that Eugene knows nothing of my blogs, it would have ended our still precarious friendship for sure.

The night I met Eugene, he was right where I found him sitting this afternoon.  On the ledge of the store, sort of sheltered from the elements, perhaps just a bit.  I offered to buy Eugene whatever he wanted to eat and drink, and that was pretty much that. It was my first encounter with a homeless person I chose to acknowledge.  BIG shame on me, I try so hard to live my life always thinking of others, yet the homeless folks had not hit my radar until I met Eugene.  I will always remember this man, for many reasons, but the funniest one is when he thanked me for the food and drink that night, he retorted with just a middle sneer, “I have never thanked a faggot before.”  I stopped and held my pug back and said straight to him, “Faggots, and transgendered folks, as well African American…..” “I get your point smart boy, it is just a word.”  I left it there for the evening, thinking both Eugene and I had much teaching to do for the other.  I promised I would look for him and always help him out.

It’s been many days and nights since I last saw him.  Today in the bright sunlight, I got a better look at him up close. He did the same, and said with a snarl, “Are you just a pretty boy?”  I replied with a smile, “Something like that I guess you could say.”  “Hey” he said, “I have a question for you. I really am all set with food and drink but I could really use a phone card.  I want to call my daughter on Sunday and wish her a Happy Mother’s Day.”  I fought back the tears of overwhelming something, I can’t explain, but all this elderly man wanted was to speak to his daughter.  I said, Eugene I have an idea.  Do you have a library card do you ever go there?  “Well yes I go to the library, I go every week,” Okay,”  I said,  “Let’s go inside and buy you a card.  Eugene I know exactly which one you need.”  I went to the rack of pre-paid phones, and picked up a Trac-phone, which tripled your minutes every time you reloaded it.  I picked up a 60 minute card for him.  “Oh no, I cant afford to have a phone.” “Eugene all you need is a place to charge it in.  Don’t you go have meals at the Friendly Kitchen? “Yes, he stammered, “I am going there tonight.”  “Perfect,” I said, “You can fully charge it there. I went on to explain he could charge his phone at the library and all the soup kitchens he went to.  I told him I wanted him to have a number where I could reach him.  “What for?” he snapped.  I said, “So I can call you and make plans to meet. I promised the first time I would help you out whenever I ran into you  here.  This is better, you can call you daughter, and whomever else you like.  Let me just pay for this, and will you come to my house down the street so I can set up your phone?”  “Do you live with anybody, I don’t want any trouble.”  “Just my daughter and tonight she is not going to be there.  My friend Stephanie is there, but I already told her all about you; she will be so glad to meet you.” ” Come on,” I said, “Let’s go I really don’t have a ton of time.”

So off we went, in the direction of my house.  No I am not stupid, I realize I don’t know him from Adam or if he has a shady history.  We got to the house and I yelled up to my Stephanie, “Honey Eugene is here we are on the porch setting up his new phone.” “Oh, I will be right out there, Does anyone need something to drink?” “Eugene, I said, “Do you need to use the restroom?”  “No I am all set, just worried I might miss dinner.”  I let him know that I was charging up his phone, I put my number in it, and loaded the minutes. “Eugene I am just about done, and Stephanie and I will run you to the church. That’s our church we go there every Sunday.”  “Is this going to be hard, I don’t now nothing about these phones.”  “No,” I said, “It is easy I will show you on the way to drop you at dinner.”

Stephanie started her Audi, and I hobbled into the backseat with Eugene and my Julia Bleu. I showed him how easy it was to make and receive calls.  I asked what his daughter’s name was and then for her number.  Feeling the best I had all day, I showed him his contacts.  “Now I just showed you, so call me now real quick. Eugene pick up your phone and ring me at the number underneath my name.”  My phone rang like magic, Eugene seemed quite pleased. ” Now, don’t forget to charge it whenever you can, I will see you real soon. But if you need anything, just call me I got your number too”

“Thank you Corey. Are you sure this is ok? “Yes Eugene, its all fine I need to go home, I just had an operation on my leg on Wednesday and its quiet sore.”  “Ok thank you, and Corey…..”  “What is it Eugene?”  “You are not a faggot to me, and your girl is really pretty.”  I smiled a smile Stephanie hadn’t seen in awhile. “I appreciate it Eugene, I will see you real soon”

We left Eugene in the parking lot of the soup kitchen.  I jumped into the front with Stephanie, trying to hide my tears. I didn’t do a good job. She said, “Corey your heart is so big, I just love you even more.”  I guess I needed to hear that as I truly had done Eugene wrong in my blog post a week ago.

We rode quietly home.  I grabbed my Adderall and my coffee and told Stephanie I was out to write some more moronic prose that was me.  Here I sit, as the sun fades, in the midst of Corey’s Chronicle hours, I feel really spent.  Think I might take some pain medication and try a new blog post just for a laugh……

-Corey

BORN THIS WAY-2016