It’s been about two weeks at this point since I saw one of the local homeless guys laying on the pavement in front of Dunkin Donuts with his scalp split open but, as I’ve been mentioning in all these posts over the past week, my own head has been so far up my ass with perceived insults, taking offense to things, I’m realizing it stands as a testament to my self-absorption that I haven’t gotten around to telling You about this: there’s a homeless guy who hangs out on Brickell who always looks cleanshaven; he’s got a full head of gray hair that’s always neatly cut; he looks dirty in the way that like handsome post-apocalyptic people look in movies: well-coiffed, but dusty.
This guy’s always wearing a fitted sportcoat with a dress shirt, nice slacks—same thing every day and, somehow, he keeps his outfit in good shape but for a small bit of dirt. He carries a backpack and walks with his thumbs tucked into the straps and leaning forward slightly, talking to himself. He’s always on the move, though, so I’ve never caught more than a syllable.
Anyway: I’m walking past Dunkin Donuts, heading to Redbar, and I see him laying across the pavement on his side, eyes open, kinda writhing, facing me. It doesn’t look like he’s in any particular distress. Plus I’ve got my headphones on so I can’t hear any commotion.
Then, eventually, I walk a few paces past him and I see two women who work at Dunkin Donuts standing on the steps, looking mortified, hands over their mouths.
So I stop, take off my headphones, turn around to follow the line of their sight and I see that the back of the homeless dude’s head is just a mush of gore. There’s a streaked pool of blood behind him and it keeps kinda jetting out from his hair in a dribblesome way.
I’m feeling myself go immediately cold at the sight, kinda faint, and then these two cops walk over from the metro station—they’ve got guns, I think, but they wear brown shirts and black slacks and don’t have much else on their belts.
They’re authority figures, but you wouldn’t call them the authorities.
Anyway: they come walking gingerly up to the guy, escorted by somebody who apparently saw the whole thing and who, when asked if he fell from the steps, says that, no, some people came and beat the shit out of him.
So the cops come up to him, they start asking him questions and he’s responding. He turns around to face them and I see he’s got a little nickel-shaped wound on his cheek that’s trailing a thread of blood down to his chin, his neck, into the collar of his shirt.
I kinda get my bearings and I’m tempted to hang out and see what unfolds but I know it’s not my place and so I keep on toward Redbar, in a bit of a daze.
The bar’s just opened and I climb onto a stool and tell one of the bartenders what I saw and he says he thinks he knows which homeless guy I’m talking about, but he isn’t sure, and then when I tell the story again to Bob and Lynda later that evening Bob tells me that it sounds like the dude got shot in the face. That the little nickel-sized wound on his cheek sounds like an entry wound, and then the chaos of gore on the back of the head sounds like an exit.
“But how could he’ve been moving around and answering questions?”
“Yeah,” he says, nodding, “probably didn’t get shot. But that’s what it sounds like.”
A few days later I get outta work at the restaurant, it’s late, I go to a nearby bar for a quick beer and I’m talking with a bartender I haven’t seen in a while. We’re going back and forth, and he tells me about a regular who comes in and only drinks one cuppa wine every single day during happy hour and who they all just realized is homeless when another regular, somebody who talks to this one-cuppa-wine guy every single day, saw him sleeping in a nearby stairwell. And I say, “Oh, shit, that reminds me: y’know the homeless guy in the pale suit and the backpack who goes around talking to himself?”
I tell the story.
The bartender nods, says he knows which guy I’m talking about. Says, “When I was working at Baru [another nearby bar] last year, that guy came in one day with his nose broke and his cheek split open. Blood all over his face. Somebody said he yelled at a drunk guy or something, called the guy a this-this-that, guy fucked him up—I think he’s got Tourette’s, though. You see him talking to himself all the time? I think sometimes he goes and yells angry shit at people and then…” he shrugs in a hopeless way, “sometimes they fuck him up. Cuz even then, that time he came in with his face all fucked up: that wasn’t the first time I’ve seen him like that.”
I haven’t seen the guy since, but I’ve been Googling details of the sight in hopes that something’ll come up. Maybe it’s best that nothing comes up, cuz I figure the only way it’d make the news is if he ended up dying.
If even then.