To read about all of Nate’s Adventures Savannah,
go to natethewriter.r8.org
As Dave and I were settling into our familiar poses like statues on the benches, Pete started getting nervous. A black man was walking across the sidewalk toward the fountain where we were already nodding off. Black men are people, and people are apt to walk across sidewalks and keep going. People are even apt to make friendly conversation, and then be on their way. This guy was a person, but Pete didn’t see it that way. Hailing from the heart of Alabama where the seeds of racism are still sunk deeply into white soil, he was immediately flushed with panic.
We’d walked past the guy earlier on a bench, and we’d taken another route so as not to bother the guy. There’s a certain level of camaraderie among bench sleepers. I wouldn’t want to be woken up, so why wake another up? He didn’t seem to subscribe to the same code of conduct.
“Hey man. I saw you guys walk out of ya’ way when you passed me by, and I just wanted to say hi to ya’ll and let you know that I’m an alright guy. I ain’t gonna’ rob ya’ or shoot ya’. Hell, if I was gonna’ do that, you’d know it.”
This is a constant struggle.
“Hey, no, no man. You’ve got it all wrong. We just didn’t want to bother you.” Dave thought quick and had a golden tongue in spots like this.
“I’m not homeless,” said the man. It was all pride now.
“No, man. It’s fine, really. We’re sleeping out here tonight too. Don’t worry about it.
What’s your name?”
Dave and I still don’t know exactly how he managed, but he calmed this homeless guy down to the point that we were sitting on the benches together smoking cigarettes and telling jokes.
“So I heard about this guy who was counterfeiting $15 bills. He didn’t know where the heck he could pass them, so he tried it in East Tennessee. He asks the guy for change for a 15, and the guy asks him, ?is a 9 and a 6 okay?’”
“That’s some funny shit there Mr. Dave. Funny shit,” said Keith.
“So what’s your story Keith? How’d you end up out here?” Pete was growing visibly uncomfortable, but Dave wanted to know what this guy’s deal was. He usually asked this of any bum we came across. The stories are always great, and this one’s no exception.
Keith rubbed his temples and pursed his lips. This was a painful story at the very root of Keith’s psychosis.