It’s early morning. I wake up from the stairwell I call home and gather up my equipment. A sticky white substance covers my breast. Christ. Had some homeless person splooged on me in the night? Nope, just my own saliva. Sighing, I sneak out of my abode and hit the streets.
The U of T seemed like the perfect place. Students, plodding along to their morning classes. Their pockets jingling with disposable income. That used to be not too long ago. When I start people are surprised. Nobody is expecting bars on the intersectionality of race and class at 6 am. Soon I have enough money to start my day. A quick ride on the street car brings me to my favorite hot dog stand.
A dreadlocked vagabond is sitting nearby. She’s in hysterics, almost completely unintelligible. Just screaming her head off on this deserted sidewalk. Her face seemed a bit familiar, but who could tell with these white people. I ordered the cheapest dog. The man grills it up and throws a glance toward the girl. “Nobody even talked to her.” He admonished, with a knowing wink. “She probably needs to go back home” I replied, laughing bitterly. “Big city a bit too much for her to handle.”
I paid, my coin purse considerably lighter now. Then sat next to the girl. “Are you okay?” I asked timidly. She screamed some more and informed me no. Life had not been kind to her, and she was stranded now. Typical Toronto story. Intentions not completely altruistic, I offered her some weed. We went to a secluded corner and smoked up, staring at the Rexall Centre. “Have you eaten today?” I inquired, eyeing her raggedly clothing. A lot of people had asked me the same question since arriving. She nodded. “I know you,” said quietly, taking a drag. “How?”
“You’re the singer from Southgate,” she confided. Holy shit. I did recognize her. A few months ago playing in my favorite busking spot. This girl had started screaming to herself all of a sudden. “Can you stop? You’re screaming is interfering with how I make my living!” Still her screaming continued. Soon my retinue of young native hoodlums was on the scene. They threatened to fuck her up. I get that they loved my music but damn. Still, she was scared and left soon after. Leaving me free to continue playing in peace.
Not my proudest moment. Definitely could’ve handled that situation better. These streets had left me hungry and unforgiving. Maybe this was the universe allowing me to make amends. Probably though, this encounter was just a mathematical eventuality. As we talked I realized that something in her was causing the outbursts. Some illness was causing them; they we’re out of her control.
I emptied my coin purse and pressed the few that I had into her hand. Wasn’t this city supposed to make me hard? Here I was giving charity. Guess I might be less of asshole than I thought. “I love you.” I told her as I left. Sure she had dreadlocks and was kind of gross. But she was still white. What can I say? They call me Othello for a reason.