Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Homeless Together

The author lives under a viaduct in Queens, New York, and is one of an estimated five hundred thousand homeless veterans in America today.
You do get used to the rats.

One thing they always tell you when you're sleeping out is make sure you wash your hands and face. And this one particular night I didn't and I also had a sandwich in my pocket, a peanut-butter sandwich, and I really love peanut butter and as I was sleeping I felt a little something moving and it was sorta like somebody going for my pocket. Somebody trying to rip me off or something. I reach in the pocket real quick and hello there! I find myself holding a rat, face-to-face. What are you doing here? And he's like looking at me you know and I'm like, Oh you're hungry, too, and I gave him the sandwich. A couple nights later same thing, although a different rat. I felt him on me and I was like, Oh he's trying to get warm. Just like a dog, the rat wants to cuddle up to you. And in the summertime, you can count on keeping fresh rat bites on your hands. They don't mean any harm, they're just looking for food. Everybody thinks they carry rabies, and that's the biggest farce going. All right, they do carry some disease, that's true, but how many people actually die of rat bites? Check with the board of health and you'll see none. How many people got sick from the rat bite? Perhaps a few.

They don't bother me.

I am homeless, and this is my story, and rats, for instance, are simply a fact of my life...

From The Story of Cadillac Man and the Land of the Lost Souls, Esquire magazine, May 2005.

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