I accidentally befriended 1-3 homeless men last Wednesday morning – afternoon. I’d just cracked a tough (for me) Python problem to determine if an integer is prime while at Klekolo. As a nice break, I whimsically scootered toward the river.
A canopy by the Weslyan boat launch shaded two guys hanging out. A golden lab trotted around them biting a long cigar-like stick, periodically returning to a pile of trophies, including other sticks and a tennis ball. There were two benches overlooking the water.
I sat on the empty bench, in front of me a short haired blonde man smiled like Jack Nicholson, to his right, on the same side of the bench, sat a long haired jean jacket regarding me with a mutual level of interest. I was wearing khaki pants and a baby blue Tommy Hilfiger shirt. A third man, under 5.5 feet tall, came and sat next to me holding a small plastic bag, he looked like a 1935 malnourished coal-miner.
Long-hair asked, “What brings you here?” So I told him, “It’s beautiful and I needed a break, why else?” Long-hair made me think of the dude from The Big Lebowski when he nodded, “Same.” He and Jack lit cigarettes, Coal-miner pulled a tall can of…beer? from his bag. Dog started sniffing near me, but retreated at my neck movement to look at him.
Jack exclaimed, “Look like he found a new toy! HaaHaaH…” his haha-ing cut off by a swig of something previously concealed beneath the bench. Dog started crunching on the stick pile. Lebowski gave Coal-miner a few bucks for the unopened…beer? can in his sooty hands. Coal-miner pocketed the cash, then pulled an identical can of what I assume was beer from a now empty plastic bag. I pulled out an Orangina bottle half-full of water, and the four of us drank in hot shade.
I told them I quit working at Pratt, Coal-miner used to work there as an electrician. He also wired the tallest building in Middletown. I told him that I live above Luce. When I asked what he’s doing now, he replied, “1-800-Pavement.” My face was confused, “What?” “I’m homeless,” he matter-of-factly stated, “the divorce ruined me.” He gripped his unopened can.
Long-hair got up, walked between the benches, then thew something away. “So, what’re your names? I’m Andrew.” I said, making eye contact with blonde Jack Nicholson. [note: all names but mine are pseudonyms] The blonde man hesitated at first, but then, “Freddy… that’s Rover.” Long-hair was almost seated when I blurted, “Your name’s Rover!?” The trio laughed as I vocally realized, “Oh. The Dog.” We all laughed. I think the four of us have twice the number of teeth that I do.
Small-talk ensued. Freddy explained that Rover has two names since he is in joint custody, half the time he’s barking at the woods, but now he’s playing fetch at the CT river. Eventually, Lebowski grabbed the ball away from Rover. “See, ya gotta be so damn fast to get his ball,” gasped Freddy. Lebowski made an offer, “If you throw this ball just right, he’ll crawl under the fence and jump the rocks. He handed me the slimey yellowy-green ball. Rover beheld what I wielded, a holy device in my hand, he spun in anticipatory circles under my arm. A quick cock of my arm had the dog corkscrewing toward the fence, his nose trained on the ball continuously. I whipped it toward a far off boat, and the dog bolted down the boat launch (not under the fence). Lebowski stipulated, “maybe he’s just tired.” Coal-miner’s can remained uncracked as he looked into various distances. Freddy watched his dog. Lebowski and I sat down. A short haired black backpack laidan cyclist wearing khaki shorts and a black polo parked at their bench. The backpack was moving.