Phil was acting differently at work today. First I had assumed that he had finally figured out how to use a computer— or maybe he had finally learned how to read— which meant he could finally go to my blog and read all the things I wrote about him.
You should have seen him: his perpetually shaky demeanor had been replaced by one of…oh what is that word…it’s a metaphor for “calm”. Chamomile. Phil seemed tranquilly chamomile. And his shifty eyes weren’t jumping all over the place— from floor to ceiling to your crotch to hiscrotch to the pregnant receptionist’s gigantic tits. When he talked to me he never broke eye contact but he was finally blinking like how a normal person would and not how a person suppressing a record-length epileptic seizure would.
It didn’t take long for it to become clear to me that Phil hadn’t read my blog— no. He still seemingly can’t read or use a computer, I thought, but he was sober. For once. I was surprised because it didn’t make much sense to me for a man with a job to effectively remain sober.
I had to know what was up.
So I followed Phil to the gas station at lunch. He was buying a lottery ticket— two, in fact. This meant he was twice the loser I thought he was. And for a split second I felt bad for Phil. But that moment passed.
And then — goddamn, another split second of remorse. All because of the second lottery ticket.
“Phillip,” I called from the back of the line, “Let me buy these Cheetos.”
Phil turned to look at me.
“And lunch,” I continued. “Let me buy these Cheetos and then we can do lunch. It’s on me.”
He just smiled— a toothless, ugly grin. Goddamn second lottery ticket, what did you get me into?
We went to Mcdonald’s— a regular place for me but probably the highlight of Phil’s life— only second to his death. I let Phil get whatever he wanted besides crack.
“What’s going on?” I asked. He was quick to the point: he was out of drugs.
“And my latest dealer wasn’t such a nice guy,” he said. He took three Chicken McNuggets and stuck them in his mouth— something that would have been impossible for a person with all their teeth.
“Maybe I can help,” I said, because, even though I didn’t have a drug guy anymore I figured…well, I was starting to see a bit of myself in Phil. Stuck at a job that sees no real progress. Addicted to drugs. Stupid. All of this scared me.
I pulled a bottle of robitussen out of my purse. “Ever hear of robo-tripping?”
His mouth was still full— he had to suck on the McNuggets because the lack of teeth— but he shook his head.
“Swallow this whole bottle at once and you’ll start tripping within half an hour. It’s the cheapest high you can get next to murder.”
Phil’s eyes started tearing up.
“Are you choking?”
He shook his head and finally swallowed.
“No, Charlie, this is the nicest thing anybody has done for me.”
This just killed me. And so did the next thing he said: he asked if I could pick him up for work on Monday.
“I have prior commitments,” I lied. “You know, Roz,” and now I realize I’ve never explained Roz to you, dear reader.
Please let me explain; I know you’ll let me explain.
So I pick up this lady and take her to work every morning. It’s no big deal: that’s why I never mentioned it before. But she did tell me the first day I drove her that she had a sexual tryst with Marvin Gaye.
No big deal.
And I also drop her off from work a few times a week. First I figured I’d drop her off at her house— you know, the one I pick her up from in the morning. No big deal, right? Wrong. Because it doesn’t matter where I pick her up when I have to drop her off at the following places:
1) The back of the Costco parking lot.
2) Freeway exits.
3) Freeway exits.
Now I’ve been doing this for a couple months but not until last week did I realize that this bitch may be homeless or crazy. Or both.
Last Tuesday she asked me to drop her off in the Costco parking lot. So I took her to Costco and drove to the front entrance. She started squawking at me as soon as her vagrant brain realized what was going on.
“No no no— drop me off in the back!” she said, all animal-like and shit. What’s weird is this was the first time Roz had ever criticized my driving in two months. Well, that and the fact she could be so adamant about being dropped off in the “right place” in a parking lot. She still got out of the car anyway because I reasoned with her that I was getting a fifty cent hot dog and a dollar soda while I was in the area.
You need to be a member of Costco to get in for the cheap food but I’d mistakenly lost my members only jacket when I moved into Apartment J. So I just told the door greeter that my mom was inside even though she’s dead.
After retrieving my jumbo hotdog and soda combo I hopped into my 1990 Ford Tempo and went toward the exit of the jumbo-sized lot.
There are a couple corners at the exit so I figured I’d play a quick game of “Corners” when leaving. If you don’t know how to play corners— it’s simple. When you see a person or a group of people at a corner you just tell yourself how long it would take you to beat them all up. So in this situation for example, lets see: Right corner is a homeless guy with a sign. I could take him, 30 seconds tops I’d be dragging him by his beard with my bare hands. I like playing this game because you always win; it’s only a matter of time until you do.
Left corner. Hm. Homeless lady. Five seconds, tops. Wait. Wait a second. That crazy homeless lady on the East corner is Roz!
Make it two seconds.
I threw my hot dog to the panhandler on the right corner and— I don’t know— he must have thought I was throwing it at him with the intention to hurt him because he tried to fight my car with his bare fists at the nearest stoplight. I could take him in a second if I were allowed to stay in the car.
“That’s no way to treat a person who has a roof to protect him from the rain!” I continued. He swung at my bumper and missed. “I live in a house and not under a bridge, you savage!” I finished before speeding away.
It was all still coming together and I didn’t know everything was apart in the first place. Roz is homeless. That’s why she never comes out from inside “her” house when I pick her up in the morning. That’s why she likes getting dropped off near the freeway. That’s why she smells like Phil.
The next morning at O-Dark-Thirty I picked Roz up from in front of the house she was fronting as her own. She still hadn’t come out from the front door, the side yard, or the roof like a normal person would have. But she did change up where she wanted to be dropped off at after work.
“Charlie,” she said, “Can you drop me off at Saddleback College today?”
“Sure… It’s kind of out of the way but I can do that,” I said.
“I’ll give you some gas money, don’t worry,” she said. She never gave me gas money before but, then again, I never asked for it. But I was out of pot so I kinda needed the money. And a dealer. Yet, Roz criticized my driving and it took all the kind bones in my penis not to criticize her living situation. And let me be clear: I’ve no personal vendetta against the homeless. It’s more of an economic vendetta more than anything. This lady should be able to afford lodging— I know what she makes paycheck-wise because we have the same job. And I pay for health insurance while she doesn’t. And she doesn’t pay for gas. Her getting by without a home makes no economic sense to me.
I took her to my failed education’s old stomping grounds as promised. Instead of being an outright dick and dropping her out front I just asked her what she needed to do at the school. “I’m taking a computer class there and they messed up my grades. So I have to straighten that out,” she said.
“That’s weird,” I said.
“Yes. The school’s data valve is plugged so I’m thinking, you know, once I learn Microsoft Excess I may be able to fix they’re problem.”
“The school,” she continued, “can’t fix their own problem that they’re paying professors to teach students. This is a problem.”
“Your problem,” I said.
“It’s all our problems, Christopher,” she said.
“It’s Charlie,” I said.
“The Vietnamese didn’t cause this problem, though,” she said.
Ok, what? I get not understanding computers but not remembering the guy’s name who has been giving you free rides to and from work for the past two months is buttfucking ridiculous with a capital Buttfuck.
I pulled to the back of the school’s parking lot to let her out. “Don’t stop here,” she said, “I need to get to the office.”
Make up your mind, crazy pants. Smelly pants. Sheesh.
The rest of the week was pretty normal with Roz, considering the situation with her was hardly normal. I mean, the only major minor annoyance was that Roz was being more of a backseat driver than normal. And she didn’t want to play Corners to-an-from work. No big deal.
Until today. I was a bit late picking her up, you see.
“Sorry,” I said, “I was stuck at the McDonald’s drive-thru,” which was a complete lie— I just didn’t want to tell her I woke up this morning and masturbated in bed for 15 extra minutes.
“Don’t go too fast, Chris,” she said, “We’re already late.”
“It’s Charlie,” I said.
“Don’t blame the asians for how fast you’re going on the freeway,” she said.
“This isn’t Irvine, Roz,” I said, “This freeway does lead to Irvine but asians don’t rise until the sun does. But that’s not the point: Where am I dropping you off today after work?”
“You want to know now?”
“Yes, I have plans this evening,” I said. I was going to smoke pot alone on my couch in an apartment that smelled like cats. Can’t be late for that.
Roz didn’t respond for at least a full minute and she didn’t even answer my question. Instead, she asked me on of her own: “Who is this artist,” she says. That’s when it hit me like a jumbo-sized hot dog: “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” was playing on the radio. And anybody could tell you who made that song famous. Especially the woman who used to suck that artist’s dick— probably while he hummed the bass-line in her ear.
“Marvin Gaye,” I said.
“Oh he’s such a wonderful artist,” she said. Oh my God, I can’t believe this is happening I thought. I’m actually driving a real live crazy person to work. And we work at the same place.
“Roz, I said, “this whole driving you to work thing isn’t, uh, working out for me,” I said. Except I didn’t say that. I’m just not going to pick her up anymore. Fuck that noise.
Upon rethinking all of this, I told Phil I could drive him to work on Monday. That would be great. It would be my pleasure.