“When you face extremely difficult times - you will quickly find a distinction in humanity - a dividing line of who is real and who is not with a sudden awareness of what true friendship or love means. If you've never experienced watching it happen to others - your time will come - and it won't be the end of the world - it will be a beginning of richer moments amongst the hairiest ones you'll ever face. Not liking this day but it's early.” Celine (aka Shorty) spoke to no one in particular.
She sat among the others in a crowded county hospital ER waiting room littered with the homeless, prisoners, the destitute and the mentally ill – realizing that she had truly become just another number in her own country. Although Celine didn’t remember where she came from, this was her home town as far as she knew. Voices and dialects from around the world asked her questions as others talked or cried – or silently dealt with their fate. A Hispanic man with lung cancer curled up on a chair – so slight in stature he was from radiation treatments that he resembled a young boy as his adult daughter and son sat protectively next to him.
Celine’s leg had come off via a car accident while crossing Hollywood Boulevard. It only took a slight bump and off the crutch leg went but her mannequin leg held her steady until that horn blast. She sat in her wheelchair wondering where her boyfriend, Morty was – it had been hours since he was tossed off of the premises demanding his girl see a doctor now. Morty was a small black man with a scrapper’s attitude and didn’t like anyone to touch his girl especially when people looked down at him – which was difficult considering he was less than 5 feet tall.
This homeless duo’s day had started off as nothing peculiar – wondering what adventure they would have to find their morning meal after hitting the shelter for a quick shower and some subway tokens. They had a pact that rather than take the food from the shelter their work consisted of lifting whatever they could as their own way of giving back to the community.
Zippy, the self-proclaimed Mayor of the homeless in Hollywood teased the duo mercilessly on their daily passage near his corner – one of many. He was one of the elders of the alcoholics and drug addicts that permeated the streets and cubbyholes in the City of Angels. Celine ignored him but Morty always wanted to whack Zippy. She understood that Zippy held a fondness in his blind heart for her but would never disrespect Morty by smiling too much or giving either man the wrong idea. Zippy was always trying to get information and making sexual remarks which irritated Morty to quick fists but Celine would remind him never to hit a blind man – it wasn’t fair.
As they crossed the street Celine was telling Morty about a new meeting she had heard about where they could get free food and change and more importantly it would be entertaining - PA or the Puppet Addicts. Morty thought it over and was about to nix it, when Celine looked at him. Her heart shined through her smile reaching into Morty’s heart and into the marrow of his bones – he never felt such love. Celine convinced him to go as a ventriloquist’s dummy as their camouflage.
Kate, a homeless woman was in a rush as she entered the opposite side of the crosswalk. She was one of the happiest people on this planet. Nothing phased her. Once, Kate saw a man lose an arm from dragging his motorcycle on the boulevard and taking a spin on the asphalt she hustled over to him - pushed her way through the crowd, looked down and grinned, “Oh, you can buy new arms and they work almost as good as the real ones!” In shock the man yelled profanities but Kate just laughed with joy.
Kate rushed past Shorty & Morty not seeing them on the crowded crosswalk. Her large bag that held her doll for the puppet addict meeting swung wide as a car honked. Kate’s arms rushed up and her hands clamped to her ears to keep out the noise and she started spinning and giggling. She inadvertently hit a stranger who fell backwards in a domino effect – one person after another knocked into each other until Morty and Celine were hit. Celine knocked against a car waiting for the light to change and that’s what brought her here to the ER. The ambulance forced her to come once the paramedics realized she had two false legs. Morty got into a one-sided fistfight with the two medics before they drove Celine away. Angry because he could fix her legs in a heartbeat – he built them!
Kate moved across the street unaware of any damage in her wake. She just grinned and said hello to every person who she came into contact with. Kate’s life was good as a homeless lady – she loved her every day and every night times. She was truly a person who never had had a bad day in her life due to her outlook. Everybody needs a Kate in their life – another human being to see our life through different eyes – even if they arrive as skewered funny bones.
Excerpt from the Shorty & Morty’s short stories by Eva-Marie Fredric. ©