He must’ve lost 60 pounds. His skin leathery brown and he looked to be half asleep. He was sittin’ in a chair on the back deck of the club house. He waved at me like he knew me and he said, “Hello, Tom.”
I returned his wave, walked up to him and shook his hand. Then I walked into the clubhouse and sat down in one of the chairs placed against the south wall. I was dozin’ off as the meetin’ started. Then, my phone vibrated. I walked out to my car, climbed into the driver’s seat, put my cell up to my ear and said, “Not interested.”
The sun shinin’ through the windshield felt good so I decided to do my dozin’ behind the wheel of my parked vehicle. When I woke, the meetin’ was over. The man who called me Tom had returned to his back deck seat so I sat in the seat next to him. That’s when I asked, “Eddie, why’d you call me Tom?”
“I don’t know, Joe. It’s been a long time.”
I looked him over. Dirty clothes. Duffle bag leanin’ against his chair. Yellow whites of his eyes. I looked him over and said, “It’s been rough for ya.”
“Yeah, rough. I don’t ship out no more. On disability. Carryin’ Mom’s ashes for 3 years. Cast her out to sea last night.”
He’d just been discharged from the hospital yesterday where he’d been a patient for 3 days after a bad drunk. He told me, “Doctor said next time ought to do it.”
“Want there to be a next time?”
“Don’t know. Not right now, I guess.”
I said he could keep his duffel bag in my car. I gave him a ride to “The Mission” where he had been cleared to stay at least one night, “Maybe a week.”
He shook my hand, said, “Good seein’ ya, Joe.”
“Good seein’ ya, man. Hope to see ya around the rooms.”
“You will. Got no where else to go,” he said and stepped from my car.
We both knew that was a lie.