Benjamin & Bassel: Spring Ziplining
love story. street life. mood swings.
“Take yourself seriously. ‘Cause no one else will. Stop ziplining through life,” my mother’s cautionary words of advice. But my safety rope has snapped a long time ago and now I sleep in the gutter muttering something inapprehensible about my drug deficient neighbour. His twitch wakes me from the middle of a sugar-filled dream or was I smothered with a rag?
“Baz!” I shout. “Could you stop kicking me?” Less of a question and more of a demand.
It has dipped below five Celsius and now my feet have become sob-sicles. Sad and cold feet. Sob-sicles.
Baz hasn’t laid off, shivering in cold, twitching, as his feet spasm ever so often kicking me in the process. I return that one rough kick and sit up, barely making out the sound of the cars and pedestrians stepping around us. The hood over my head and ears as I peek out the blanket-covered door of the shelter-box. No amount of sleeping bags will make the concrete warmer.
“We need to move,” I make a fist and throw it to Baz’s feet. An attempt to wake him; but, it’s a fruitless attempt. He keeps on snoring and I watch his breath curling to a mist. “Baz,” I raise my voice slightly, “wake up,” and hit his feet again. He merely shuffles them and continues to ignore me, grunting in annoyance. After two more hits, Baz finally curls up like a butterfly stretching his wings and yawning.
“I’m hungry.” Finally some audible and comprehensible words from Baz. Even with bedhead and dirt smudges on his cheeks, I cannot help but admire his half-opened eyes. No matter how shitty things get, without Baz, none of it would be worth it and I hang my stare on his face. “Stop it,” he mumbles and shoves his palm over my face, making me turn from him.
I smile and choose my words in the contest to my thoughts, “Me, too.”
“You were about to say?” Baz asks knowing me too well. “Say it then.”
“I love you.”
“Man. It’s. I love you, man.”
But his correction only makes me laugh. “Okay.” I accept my boyfriend and his tough persona.
The underpass got flooded last month and Baz and I haven’t returned to our home with the other residents in scattered tents and with shopping carts. The teardown of the bridge made it impossible to find a safe and dry place to rest. Then the flood came and washed all of us away.
My stomach turns with hunger and rumbles loud enough for Baz to take a cue to move. We pack what we can and leave the cardboard by the nearest trash bin. Tonight got to be different. With the spare change from yesterday, we manage to get a hot meal and make our way down the financial corridor of the city. The suits always drop the best bills; but, I’m not in the mood to sit and beg. With Baz’s family disowning him and me having no family to turn to, we make do with the streets. Lately, it has however come tiresome and aimless; and I would like to have direction and some sort of endpoint. Warmth would be one of them. The full stomach would be another. Maybe a bath and some change of clothes. A home. A job.
“How about the shelter tonight?” I suggest.
Baz grunts with distaste as our last visit ended with Baz having to get two stitches.
“You need meds, too,” I place my hand to the middle of his chest with concern and grip onto the zipped zipper of his jacket.
He knows that it’s true. He cannot keep on dismissing the idea and avowing to look at me. But I stare blatantly at Baz awaiting for him to cave in.
His nod comes with reservation and a heavy sigh but I smile and say, “I love you, man.”
To my ridiculous words, Baz grins.
Benjamin and Bassel. Two separate forms. Two separate names. But we come as a package and the young volunteer at the intake desk is not pleased with something personal but tries her best to sound kind and patient. I look over the pamphlets of other services offered, including medical and career planning.
Baz has taken a seat and rests his eyelids. If we only get a free warm meal for dinner and maybe some shut-eye, at least it will be a start. To rest my head on a soft pillow; a destination.
I pick up the snapped safety rope and tie it together. No more ziplining without caution and instructions. In need of a helmet, harness, and a guide. If not for my sake, then for Baz’s. One of us has to take the matter seriously.
I thank the young lady and start to fill in the blank lines.
© Jacob Greb — 2022
return to Story Teller