Life in the parsonage, Wednesday morning edition: My wife is gone for three days to visit her friend in the Bay Area. Luckily for me, there is still homemade vegetable soup left over from Monday. As great as it is hot and fresh off the stove, it is always better the second or third day, eaten cold with lots of black pepper and garlic, like a spicy gazpacho.
I am eating lunch at the kitchen table when Pastor Mom walks in with Homeless Guy #1. I have to number them now, because we currently have two. They are brothers-in-law.
Let’s see, how can I explain this? Homeless Guy #2 is an excellent handyman who can do carpentry, plumbing, painting, gardening and just about anything else you can think of. Furthermore, he is an awesome songwriter and guitarist. The problem is that he is an alcoholic and drug user, hangs out with a bad crowd and has been in and out of jail. Also, he has anger issues. We recently sold him my trusty old car that my niece wrecked a couple of months ago. The engine is good and you can still drive it, but the front end is all smashed in, it needs headlights and a new radiator, and the dashboard was blown out when the air bags went off. Not surprisingly, #2 didn’t have any money to buy the car. However, a charitable member of the church paid for it and #2 is satisfying the debt by working on the guy’s house and yard. As it turned out, #2 wanted the car to live in. I hear he parks it behind a friend’s house at night. I see him driving it around, though. That dude is going to be slapped with some serious tickets when he gets stopped by the Highway Patrol, as he will sooner or later.
Homeless Guy #1 had made himself scarce for a couple of weeks, but lately he’s been hanging around again. Monday, he knocked on the door 10:30 at night and asked to use the rest room. “I haven’t seen you in a while,” he told me. “Where you been, workin’?” I reminded him that I have been unemployed for nearly eight months and that I am always here. My wife says I’m rude to him, and she’s right. As much as I’ve tried to help the guy, he rubs me the wrong way and I tend to be snippy with him.
Last night, I heard a familiar knock about 10 pm. Guess who? #1 asked for Pastor Mom, but I told him that she had already gone to bed. Then he asked me for a drink and I offered him a bottle of water. What he really wanted, he confessed, was something sweet before he went to bed. Would we happen to have some candy? My wife dug around in the cupboard and found a couple of mini candy bars left over from what we had passed out in church on Mothers’ Day. He thanked us and promised to share the bounty from the vegetable garden he is growing — radishes, cantaloupes and giant tomatoes. Hope those bite-size 100 Grand bars give you sweet dreams. Now get to bed — er, I mean get to tent.
#1 resides in a tent with his dog, a sleeping bag and a Coleman stove. Said tent is set up in the back corner of his mother’s yard. Mother won’t allow him to stay with her or even to come in the house to use the bathroom, supposedly because he uses too much toilet paper. She does occasionally invite him in for a meal, however. Mother says that he must contribute to the water bill because he uses a water faucet outside the house to drink from and wash his hands. He doesn’t comply with this requirement, however, because he has no money, only Food Stamps. So far, Mother hasn’t kicked him off the property despite the fact that the cops are over there all the time.
#2 was, until recently, living indoors — with his wife and mother-in-law, the latter being #1’s Mom (although arguably not a #1 Mom). #2 and his wife are both tattooed from here to tomorrow, which may or may not have anything to do with their lives of alcohol, drugs and jail. The fights over there were legendary and the sheriffs were regular visitors when the shrieking got out of hand. I hear that a recent bloody argument concerned whether #2 had the right to open his bedroom window when Mom wanted it closed. No longer an issue, of course, as #2 has since separated from his wife and lives in his (formerly my) car.
As the U.S. Post Office does not deliver mail to backyard tents, #1 continues to receive mail at his mother’s house. Apparently, he had received a letter from the IRS indicating that he may be entitled to the refund of some money that had been deducted from a paycheck by an employer years ago. #1 showed up while I was eating my soup today to ask for help in contacting the IRS. He started out by using Pastor Mom’s cell phone, then tried to use her desktop computer to log on to the IRS website, but didn’t have much luck with either method.
#2 had been working on the church all morning, doing some repair and plumbing work. The church pays him for whatever he does. We also pay #1 for any odd jobs he does for us, which doesn’t happen very often. In fact, #1 came by a few days ago to complain that we had allowed #2 to water the rose bushes when #1 said he wanted to be paid for doing this task. We explained that we had allowed #2 to take care of it because the roses were wilting in the 100° heat and it was noon and #1 still hadn’t shown up. Among the many reasons that #1 is unemployable is that he has absolutely no concept of time.
#2 comes in the parsonage to clean up real quickly because he has to high tail it up the freeway to get to his appointment with his probation officer. #2 doesn’t have a valid driver’s license anymore, but #1 helpfully mentioned that he has one.
It seems that they are a perfect pair: #1 has a license but no car, while #2 has a car but no license.