All his stuff is still in his room. His clothes, the new cell phone he was so proud of, the credit reports he worked so hard to get off of the internet so he could start cleaning up his record, his shaving cream and soaps and vitamins, even some laundry he was in the middle of (a bag of his moist clothes sits on a chair, waiting for Bobby to put them in the dryer) . . . everything is still here . . . except Bobby.
He must be on a binge, off on a toot, or in jail. Nobody knows. He disappeared Friday and didn't come "home" for the weekend midnight curfew at our homeless veterans shelter.
He was supposed to go to an RTC fish fry Saturday afternoon. His fellow RTC (I don't know what 'RTC' stands for except its drug addicts just out of prison) his RTC fellows came looking for him Saturday afternoon. When I told them he hadn't come "home" Friday night, their faces fell. This fish fry was spoiled. One of their own had obviously fallen.
Bobby didn't come "home" Saturday night or Sunday. With all his stuff and undried laundry here, it's as if he took off his clothes on the beach and just walked in to the ocean. He's gone. Even if he's still alive and not already in jail, he's GONE.
Bobby; pallid, chubby, bespectacled accountant Bobby, was . . . uh, IS, a crack addict. Or a sex addict who uses crack. Or both. His thing was strawberries: young crack whores.
Ok, Bobby was a sick puppy, but he looked normal. He looked like you or me. Mostly me; a normal, middleaged man who could be someone's grandfather, an accountant, a square, a citizen. He looked like a citizen. He wanted to be a citizen, but I guess the street called him Friday and he couldn't resist.
I know that siren call. I hear it myself. Not for strawberries or crack or bluesy little neighborhood bars, but for the streets. The street at night calls me. "Come out and play," it pleads. "Come, take off your clothes and walk into me," it says, but I am stronger than pudgy, palid fraud investigator accountants with drug and sex cravings. Stronger. A little.
These addicts and felons and skid row bums here at the veterans' dorm will pull you down in a thousand subtle and not so subtle ways if you let them.
Wrongway Lettner tried to get me to join him many times at The Adventurer Inn 'just for a quick beer' and I told him "Satan get behind me!" and he didn't understand and Bobby tried many times to get me to eat the pork of his obsessions and I told him to cast his demons into OTHER swine and he didn't understand and you must understand that these men were not just pick up acquaintances, but friends and I'm hurt that they're gone but I didn't go WITH them, won't go with the next shitheads who try to drag me down into their mire, but I might go back to the street on my own. I've got my own persuasive demons.
The first week Bobby arrived here, he saw a naked dead woman in a dumpster near the vets' dorm. That image bothered him. He couldn't get it out of his head, he said.
The last time I saw Bobby, he was walking down a dark alley from the the vets' dorm to the street wearing shorts, sandals and a white tee shirt. I started to call out to him, started to call, "Hey, Bobby, where're ya going?" but I didn't. I should have, but I didn't.
That image of him, walking aimlessly out in to the night street, lost and getting loster, will stay with me for a while.
Tags: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Veteran Affairs, Veterans Administration, V.A., U.S. Vets, L.A. Vets, veterans shelter, homeless veterans, homeless, U.S. military, military veteran, Veterans Day, Revver, videoblog, videoblogging, Siren, call of the street, Veterans In Progress, sober living facility, DINFOS, Defense Information School, credit reports, crackflashes, crackhead, doppleganger, crack binge, toot, RTC, fish fry, drug rehab, drug addict, crack addict, strawberries, young crack whores, whores, crack ho, the siren call, skid row bums, The Adventurer Inn, Satan get behind me, the pork of his obsessions, cast the demons into swine, drag me down, persuasive demons, vets dorm, dead woman in a dumpster, dark alley, jarvis, marquisdejolie, viral video