Larry travels into the city from Newark every Friday morning. It has been weeks since his unemployment ran out. He hits his old co-workers up for money. There are lots of churches in Newark that will feed one like Larry, but cash is better than cold-cuts in a town where the rich got richer and the rest have been left to the hands of long-dead saints and their modern day followers who seem to think everyone who is homeless is also a drug addict and a sinner who let God down, and now they are paying dearly for it.
The church charities will rarely trust the needy with cash of their own – as if it is really possible to survive in this town on bread alone! Larry is not an addict. I know it pains him to have to depend on the church to survive. I wonder if he still has a roof over his head. He appeared somewhat haggard, almost desperate, as he stood outside the warehouse long before the sun started shining down 29th Street Friday morning.
Larry knows better than to ask me for coin, especially for trying to read me that day, years ago. I don’t get involved in those warehouse deals that many others there seem so caught up in anyway—who owes who how much? I don’t know how the ex-cons keep track of it all; between the loans and the football pools they are all in from week to week. If one does not pay they other come payday, then someone else’s loan fails that week. Larry had no job there now and none of my co-workers were dumb enough to give him another loan, except for Mike Day, the ex-heroin addict pulled from the streets by a nun in the East Village. Sometimes I think Mike is a saint. No wonder Larry comes in every Friday. It’s all so complicated and so much easier just to say you are poor and “I have nothing to give you.” Larry recovered from whatever it was he once was strung out on and made that fact very well known to others who worked as New York City messengers, back when Larry still had a job and before he got fired for refusing to deliver a few Amazon boxes that the floor manager wanted to go out that day.
“Good morning, Larry,” I said while exiting the place with a stack of fifty or so paychecks in my backpack and newspaper boy canvas bag strapped over my head and left shoulder.I swung the bundle on my hip like a purse as I said those words.
“Still working like a slave for Steve the slave master, is see,’ he whispered.
I didn’t say a word to the bastard. I just kept walking, swinging that bag like I was the queen of the industry or something