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Monday, August 13, 2012

A New Chapter Starts Part 2


I start to sleep wherever I can and my friends start to pass me around. 

I sleep on different floors, in hallways, in people’s yards, anywhere I am invited to sleep, I sleep. 

The nights that I am on my own I wander through the streets of Albany. I nod off sitting on people’s porches. I vow that “Someday I will have a home that I can call my own.”

Friends of Friends even volunteer. I sleep on a couple’s floor so they can go out on a date. They leave me in charge of their daughter who is one at the time. This is where I start to have a belief that “Angels” appear and do good deeds to help you get through rough times.

The husband of the couple is a horrible racist who refers to me as “Queer as a three dollar bill.” He is a chain smoker with a Nazi Tattoo on his upper arm. They live over the pharmacy on the corner of Lark and Western and show me such kindness. I get to stay with them for a whole week. So I am able to stay somewhere a little more consistent. 

They feed me, give me cigarettes and let me shower. I listen to him say horribly racist comments every time he looks out the window and across the street to the “poorer” section of Albany. 

I spend my days looking for a job, any job that I can do I will. I start to clean people’s houses to make any money I can. I meet three rich spoiled college girls who hire me to clean their apartment on a weekly basis. They have no idea that I am sleeping on the streets. One of the girls holds her nose and mouths the words “He stinks” when I am scrubbing their toilet. I pretend that I don’t hear her.

I am making $40.00 to clean their home. The list they leave consists of scrubbing floors, cleaning bathrooms, dusting, vacuuming, washing and folding clothes, making beds and cleaning their rooms. The whole job takes me hours. When I am done and I survive the finger test (this is where one of the girls walks around the house and wipes her finger over everything that I have cleaned) I am told I will be paid “Next Time.”

I don’t want to tell them my living situation because I am afraid that I will lose the job.
My friend Rich tells me that I can sleep at his house on the floor of his room for a couple of nights. I am told that if I hear his father come home that I am to make no noise at all. He says that his father will kill him if he finds out that someone is staying there. 

It is just Rich and his Dad living in the apartment. His Dad was recently divorced. The house is filthy and newspapers are everywhere.

This is the lowest I have ever felt in my life. I spend so much time silently crying when I realize this is my life.   

One day while Rich is out of the house I lay down on the floor of the kitchen after I have opened the stove and turned on the gas. Rich returns home because he has forgotten something and finds me.

My suicide attempt has not worked and Rich tells me I can no longer stay on his floor, so I am back on the streets. 

My friend Anna sees me on the street and invites me to come to her house. Her Father is rich and divorced. She will let me hide in her basement.

Anna sneaks me into her house where I can take a shower. She makes me some food and takes my filthy clothes and throws them into the washer. She gives me a pair of sweats and a t-shirt to wear until my clothes are clean.

We listen to Simon and Garfunkel, Jodi Mitchell and Anna’s all time favorite band “The Who.” We dance around her room and when she gets called to dinner she tells me to hide under the bed. 

It doesn’t take long for Anna’s father to get wise to what’s going on. Anna makes a plea to him as if she just found a puppy on the street she wants to keep.

The answer is “No!” and I am once again back on the streets.

It is several days before I return to the Gay Community Center looking for any help that I can get.

Bill at the front desk listens to my story as I sob uncontrollably. He is moved and explains to me that he has an apartment down on Madison Place that I can stay at. He has two roommates named Adam and Tom and he has four bedrooms and two baths.

It is an hour later when he tries to step into the shower that I realize what he expects in return for his help.

To be continued……..

Geoffrey Doig-Marx holds all written and electronic rights to his writing "A Day in the Life". It can not be reprinted in part or whole without his written consent. 

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