In this piece, a homeless vet writes to a friend. I used a composite of the stories I heard as a therapist who worked with homeless vets in San Francisco.
Thought I’d drop you a few lines since this week makes
five years since we left Iraq.
I know you say you ain’t the same without ur leg but I hope
ur feeling better.
I’ll feel hella better when I throw out these pills for crazies.
Why does the fuckin’ V.A. give me pills when I say I need food?
Why don’t shrinks know people go crazy from hunger?
My partner died of AIDS last year, so I got no one to talk to, so I
went to Reno last month.
The ticket was a free one way, so I figured I’d go see family.
That was a big mistake.
My bitch of a sister wouldn’t let me meet my nephew ‘cause I came out gay.
Her Holy Roller husband kept sayin’ he’d shoot me for Jesus.
I told them to kiss my faggot ass!
I spent the rest of my money for a one way back to Frisco.
That’s life for uppity fags and burnt out war heroes.
I keep hoping you’ll send me a card so I know ur alive.
I’d call but I can’t buy a phone.
I get $300 a month General Assistance and it costs $200 for a week in a crap hotel, so’s I won’t have a place for the next three weeks, but please write to that address I sent anyways.
(c) Rob Goldstein 2018 – revised August 2019
And when the time comes,
we shall depart these
the candle flickered on our nightstand,
his scarlet cheeks.
©Rob Goldstein 2019