The Bum Picker

June 26, 2016 at 10:40 am (Cussed Dumbers)

Bum PickerI tell people I don’t do my job for the money, but for the entertainment. While that’s not entirely true, it’s close. I have to do something to make a living, and running a convenience store at night is a surefire passport to adventure.

The end of the month sucks on the Avenue. Everyone is on the hustle, including yours truly. I keep an eye open for bargains, and help those desperate on occasion, because what comes around goes around and you never know.

Others are more predatory. Like in nature, some predators are more fear-inspiring that others. Some have brawn and speed on their side, others have to rely on stealth and cunning to get their dinner. I got to witness a first-class example of this yesterday afternoon.

I’d taken over the store from Dr T, who’d warned me people were being awful. One strung-out doper after another, coming in to shop for fifteen minutes for candy, only to realize they’d “left their card sitting on a phone booth in Milwaukie!” POOF! They were gone. One bum pile after another gathered outside the store by the payphone. I’d go stand outside and stare them down, eventually they would leave. Festus helped with this. He’d stand there, chomping on his cigar, mean-mugging and talking shit. I’d offered to find the hose more than once.

Then something magical happened. They bum we call Finger Pickin Good* was in front of the store, sizing up his prey.

*He’s called Finger Pickin Good because one day Festus was following him up the street when he stopped, let his pants fall to the sidewalk, and used his index finger to excavate a new crater near the rim of his butthole. That visual enough for ya? I’ve never been able to look at the guy since without seeing that.

Another bum, a young white kid with a bicycle and skateboard, had tethered his bike to the pay phone and was taking a nap on the sidewalk in front of the store. I will allow this because A.) They are being very, very quiet, and B.) They are taking up space where three or four other stinky bums would be sitting, with cardboard signs, flea-bitten dogs and a pile of perpetual trash. I’ll let Junior take a nap.

Except Finger Pickin Good was hungry. And he needed a smoke. And he was curious. He went up to Sleeping Junior, and said, in his insanely high-pitched squeak, “Hey! Hey! You gonna eat that?” He touched Junior’s shoulder, than ran halfway down the block, fearing retaliation. When Junior didn’t even flinch, he returned. He poked at the dinner box with the tip of his raggedy shoe, but was afraid to grab just yet.

Finger Pickin Good must have spent twenty minutes circling Junior, touching his shoes, then jumping back. He filched at least three cigarette butts from Junior’s stash, smoking them as he circled Junior like a buzzard. Every few minutes his pants would fall to the ground, mooning the world. Several people were watching the events unfold; I began video-recording after Junior started cuddling his skateboard. Was he going to wallop Finger Pickin Good? I wish Marlon Perkins from Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom were there to narrate.

Eventually Junior woke up and yelled at Finger Pickin Good, who ran off in a squeaky huff down the middle of the street. An armed Clean and Safe officer saw, smiled and said, “Thomas is running down the middle of the street. Will this be a self-correcting problem?”

We could only hope.

1 Comment

  1. SkinRooster said,

    Buttflix & Chill 😀

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