Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "A Man is Known by the Company He Keeps" (without using the actual phrase). (01/31/08)
TITLE: Crazy Mag Man
By Debbie Wistrom
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I chose this destination by my actions. So did the others. Some deliberate, some the by-product of dramatic lifestyle changes. This certainly wasn’t planned, no conscious thought had gone into it. I think my neighbors would agree if we wanted to wake them up to ask.
I wonder what happened to my home in the underbelly of the Station. My new home here at Potter’s Field is so quiet compared to the ever-present roar of the city above the subterranean domicile. Have you heard about honor among thieves? Well, there is something akin to that down below. Old and new homeless people coincide in peace. Established residents help the newcomers find an empty spot to call home. Once I had marked my territory with magazine photos taped to the concrete wall no one tried to move in on me. Yes, my nickname came from my obsession with magazine pictures. I had always been a visual person. I wonder who has taken over that spot. Who is rummaging through the great dumpsters that were once my territory, behind Tress le Chez? Those topsiders had it made, always throwing away the best magazines, fancy cakes and cookies.
It’s ironic, I collected other people’s trash after throwing away everything I had known. Living large in the village, in a great walk up, a fat wallet, adoring family, reliable friends. Funny too, I still have that wallet, funnier yet is that my new name, Crazy Mag Man, matches the initials on that wallet. I can hardly remember who Charles Mark Maher was.
I see someone found my antenna with the raccoon tail. Isn’t that nice? I wonder what happened to the skunk tail. Everyone knew when those tails were wagging I was on a mission. Oh, look, someone found my camera too. I’m surprised old Mumbly Peg didn’t snatch it as soon as I was laid out here stiff and bored. Slick Sally must have worked her magic on the guards to let her in to leave these items in my memory.
Finding the camera in the Park was the best thing to have happened to me in ages. I spent days wandering the city taking “pictures” of outlandish scenes. I once took a “picture” of a dog peeing on the statue of Balto. Weird, huh? That camera had given me a new direction. The man I had been at one time, peeked from behind the lens for a brief moment.
One day while on my regular refuse route, with both raccoon cart and skunk cart full, a young man stopped me. It was odd, but when he offered me cash money for my treasures, I stood stunned. “Hi, I’m Joey; I want to buy your trash.” He waved the wad of bills and paused to let the impact settle on my unbelieving ears. He was looking for all sorts of NYC trash, the clean kind.
“Sure, but what are you going to do with it?” I grabbed the bills and jammed them in CMM’s empty wallet.
“It’s crazy, but I package it in an acrylic box and sell it on the Internet.” Joey wrinkled his nose, the olfactory confirmation of the visual clues that I hadn’t showered in sometime finally hit him.
Being paid to collect what others have discarded was a strange turn of events but it didn’t last long. I used some of that money to get a birthday cake for Slick Sally and after a night of off key songs and the treat of fresh pastry, I just checked out. No pain, just the letting go of everything and entering into the peaceful stillness of eternal night.
Here in this anonymous collective burial plot, my mortal remains lay at rest with other lost and neglected souls. My final prayer is for more people to recognize the grace God has bestowed upon them and enter into fellowship with other believers so they can have peace on this earth while they are alive rather than waiting for the peace that comes with death.
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