Eber walks a guy over from the door. Said he needs directions. He moved slow. It takes him forever to unfold a packet of papers, then find the place on the sheet with the address he’s looking for. It’s the Pacific Garden Mission—a homeless shelter about a mile away. I’ve been walking all day, he says. Then asks for a glass of water and some napkins.
His face is swollen around the eyes and his features are off, like they’re the wrong proportions. Every movement takes forever. He dabs at one of his eyes, leaving stains on the tissue after each touch. He says he’s happy the shelter’s close—he thought he was still many miles off. Then he asks for a drink on the house. When I say no, he asks how much it would be if it wasn’t on the house. I tell him I wouldn’t be comfortable serving him a drink at any price.
You think I’m fucked up, right?
I say I don’t know but that he wouldn’t be getting a drink here. Can you make sense of this? he asks, fanning out his packet of papers. It’s from Stroger Hospital. Intake information, diagnoses, and directions for aftercare. I say I don’t know. This is what they say I got. Pink eye. You know how you get it? It’s from shit. Wipe your ass, then rub your eyes. The doc said I should get better by the 20th, that’s when I turn 22. But I don’t know. Then he asks if I heard about Banksy’s latest stupid art world stunt. Even skid row wastoids like my new friend know about that clown.
I walk away to pretend to serve my three remaining customers, but mostly for a break from the guy’s misery. When I go back to him he tells me I should probably throw away the glass I served him water in. That it might be contagious. If it’s not one thing it’s another. Let me give you a piece of advice: don’t ever mess up.
I thank him for the wisdom and reiterate the directions to Pacific Garden Mission: Go left out the door down Cermak till you get to Canal. Take a left and walk about three quarters of a mile. You can’t miss it. Good luck.
He takes several more minutes to gather his papers and stuff them slow-motion into his pocket, then points his body towards the door. After he clears the threshold, I throw the glass he used in the trash.
—I made some illustrations for an excerpt from a Will McGrath book for The Rumpus.
—Chris Miller wrote a really nice review of my Dominican show (which you only have a couple more days to catch.)