Thursday, 10 February 2011


THEY EXIST----AND I WILL SHOW YOU ONE. My companion this date shares with me a fascination with derelict buildings.
This abandoned motel near the Salton sea draws our attention. Surely there's a story here--we will go get it.
We go through it noticing this and that---how the copper wiring has been removed---sinks, toilets, doors, windows etc. The life and loves of its last occupants are clearly written in the debris we find. I'm delighted to have a friend who enjoys so strange a hobby as this. We poke our way through all the rooms.
We note there is something different about this last one. Someone's been here very recently---food, water, clothing scattered about.
Someone apparantly has been sleeping on that couch---eating off that table. AND THEN---AND THEN!!!
An angry man steps from the recesses--yelling and warning us not to steal anything. We were intruders in his home and vulnerable to a Norman Bates (the movie Psycho) type attack. I managed this shot when my companion distracted him.
Then instinctively went into charm mode---cheerful---asking easy questions--needing his help. He responded---warmed up and eventually told his story: Has been living here for years---tolerated by the Indian lady owner--who bought the place at a tax sale. He tried living at the Slabs ---gave various reasons for leaving there. The truth was obvious to me, however. He was drunk and wanted to stay drunk.-----That requires easy quick access to liquor. The Slabs are 4 or so miles from an alcohol source. Here, a store is only a half mile away. My tiny home town of Sondheimer, La had several like him---they were my sometime childhood friends. I surmise that he gets the $600 a month that California will pay to such folks to avoid paying the $2500 a month it would cost to institutionalize and treat him. Doing the math, He has $20 a day to feed his body and his habit---so he requires free rent.
He showed us where he sleeps in the summer---atop these stacked mattresses---shaded in late afternoon and a bit more breezy at nights. He had not lost his sense of humor---told me that I could leave my companion with him.

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES: The story I take away from this encounter is that the guy chose easy access to alcohol over easy access to human companionship at the Slabs. I wonder what he would choose if the choice was made even more stark: ALCOHOL OR PEOPLE. (i.e. total solitude with alcohol or people ---with no alcohol.)

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