A few years ago, I had a very bad day. Very bad.
It doesn’t matter how it happened, but I’d lost my wallet. Inside the wallet was a lot of money. More money than I usually carry. It was a crummy day if ever there was one.
And because I am human, it made me feel despondent. When I get despondent I need saturated fat.
That afternoon, I stopped at a fast-food joint for a burger. I saw a man outside the eatery. He had a large duffel bag and stringy hair. He was young, but he looked old.
Around his neck, a miniature transistor radio was blasting music. In his hand was a foil-wrapped burger. In his other hand was a turtle.
I asked if he needed help.
He answered: “Nah, we’re just looking for a place in the shade. It’s hot out.”
“Why not eat inside the dining room?” I asked.
“Don’t think they want guys like me inside. I’d scare people away.”
didn’t scare me. We talked in the parking lot. He ate.
“I’m a lucky man,” he said with a mouthful. “The whole world’s my home, dude. I go wherever I want.”
My new friend was happy and upbeat. He did odd jobs when he needed money. In Columbus, for instance, he helped an elderly woman enclose her porch. He built a fence for an eighty-year-old man in town. He’d slept in the man’s guest bedroom for a few days.
“I can’t be indoors very long,” he said. “Makes me all weird.”
He told some of his story. His father abused him. His family kicked him out long ago. He said he’d been homeless, off and on, since his twenties.
“My mom wanted me to be a preacher,” he went on. “She wanted me to do something big with my life, but…