This is the story of the time that I invited a homeless person that I met on the train back to my house so that he could have a shower, wash his clothes and sleep in a bed for the night.
In part, I think I want to tell you that I did this so that you realise that I am a caring charitable kind of guy. Also, I want to tell you about this because of some of the interesting and bizarre things that happened when I did this. Also, I want to have my own record of this event, because I don't want to forget this.
I started writing this story on the 11th March 2004. I wasn't able to finish it entirely on that day, which was the day after this happened (the morning that this guy left). I've spent some time trying to tidy up my notes this evening, but mostly this is just the text that I wrote back on the 11th of March. If it's a little hectic, that's because I haven't taken a lot of time to re-write it since I tried to spew it all out in a rush back in March.
After rugby training last night, I got on the 10:17 PM train from Central. It was the Newcastle train again, but I was only going to Epping. I had to wait over 40 minutes for the train to leave, because I'd arrived at the station around 9:30. While I was sitting on the train waiting for it to leave, a dude came in a sat in front of me. We were both in the front part of the carriage, up the top near the vestibule on the middle section before it splits to the upper and lower levels. He was a few seats in front of me and had his back to me, we were both sitting in the direction the train was going to travel. I was pretty much lost in my thoughts, but I noticed this guy, because he was talking to himself, and he was PISSED OFF.
I was thinking, 'go on buddy, I DARE you to start trouble with me'. As it turned out he got up and sort of walked around the carriage talking to himself a bit. He sort of looked over my way and realised that I was watching him talk to himself. I guess he felt a little bit self-conscious, but I just said "z'it-goin?". He says "a'ight". Then we had some chit chat: "So where are you heading?", "I'm going to Epping. What about you?", "Gosford.", "OK.", "Yeah, I know a place out there.", "What do you mean?", "Just a place with some shelter", "Oh, you're homeless?", "Yeah", "That sux", "Yeah", "So what have you been doing all day?", "I've been on trains all day, just got back from Katoomba", "Really? I used to live out there.", "Yeah, I went out there to get some food"... and so on, basically chatting about 'how being homeless works'. Getting food from soup kitchens, housing from housing commission, money from centerlink, vouchers, pensions, etc.
We chatted on the train for a while, and I picked him as a tortured and crazy individual, but since he was heading all the way out to Gosford to sleep in the bush I sort of would have felt like an arsehole if I didn't offer him a place to crash for the night. So I told him he could come and stay at my place for the night and have a shower (he stank) and wash his clothes, etc. He was pretty grateful, so we spoke to each other for the rest of the train trip and then again obviously once we got to my house. In short, last night was pretty crazy, and out of the ordinary.
I'm pretty sure that the guy was crazy, but there must have been at least some truth in some of the stuff that he told me, or else he's been telling his story for so long that he not only believes it but has perfected the little details that make some of it sound real enough. So, I begin with "So, why are you homeless?", I'm going to summarize some of what he told me, because it came out in pieces over many hours, then I'll summarize some of what I think might be true:
Born in Asia somewhere. Spent time in a Welsh orphanage. Killed a few people. Ended up back in his country of origin (Vietnam, or near there apparently). Got sent to prison. Got released as a slave soldier (as I understand it from what he told me this means you get released from prison into the armed forces). Fought in the French Foreign Legion. Used to play the electric guitar. Used to fight in the underground (i.e. martial arts). Spent a lot of time in places around Cambodia, that he knew the names for (assuming he didn't make them up).
Man, I can't even go on, he told me about 10 billion more things than that, some of them so outlandish they couldn't be described as anything more than insane, for example: "Can I tell you a sad story?", "Yeah", "I had a wife, and I had to go out in Cambodia, and she didn't know if I was in Australia or Cambodia, so she picked up a gun and came looking for me. Then she got raped by a bull and had a sex change, and in this hot zone we had to fight for about 12 hours, but once we won the zone we had to go and find the bodies that we were going to eat and I found her, and my Sargent made me eat her, and now I've got these two fingers in me, here [points to his stomach], I guess that means I only have two wives not three so I'm not complete and a part of me is missing. But I don't know what you'd call that. Would it be a Priest of War? Does that make me a Priest of War? Because it seems like I'm a priest. I guess that makes me a priest."
Yep, you heard it here first. That was a verbatim story. One of many, some equally as bizarre, some not so strange and probably true. Like getting food from a soup kitchen. He said "I can't kiss women. Women are disgusting creatures. Did you know that one third, or like 39.87 percent, or just less than 40% of women go out at night and fuck farm animals? They're fucking disgusting man.", "Who told you that?" , "My general told me that, and the other guys to. So he said we shouldn't go out and be studs because women are disgusting.", "I wonder why he told you that?", "Because he couldn't believe it I guess. You know, he was just spun out by it."
Or this one, while we were on the train. This is kind of bizarre. I didn't start this one, he did. "I had Agent Orange poisoning", "What's that like?", "It's really, really bad man.", "I bet it is.", "Yeah, and now I have to drink Pepsi Max, I'm not allowed to drink Diet Coke", "What the fuck?", "Yeah, it's really bad man, if you have like 10 bottles of Diet Pepsi that's like the same thing as Agent Orange.", "Ah, you mean like Phenylalanine?", "I don't know dude, they just told me I'm not allowed to drink Diet Coke anymore. But I'm allowed to drink Pepsi Max.", "But they have the same stuff in them.", "Nah, they're different products. I don't know dude. They just told me that I'm not allowed to drink Diet Coke anymore.", "Well maybe you mean you're allowed to drink Pepsi, not Pepsi Max.", "Nah, only troopers drink Diet Coke. Once you come back you stop and you drink Pepsi Max. I don't want to be a trooper anymore.", "Haha, that's funny. I drink like 10L of Diet Coke a day.", "Well maybe you're meant to be a trooper then dude."
That's right. I had that conversation.
I reckon the guy must have spent time in the army. He looked in good shape for a bum. I don't know how old he was, but he told me he was 48. He didn't look that old, but at the same time I guess he did. He probably wasn't old enough to really have been fighting in Vietnam. Doesn't mean he hadn't been fighting somewhere though. He seemed really strong and fit. He had little details, and sometimes I could see him become withdrawn and tortured by his thoughts or memories, real or imagined I don't know. I'm guessing that he probably was in some army and he probably did see some action, I think the rest is just craziness that he got in his head after years of isolation and substance abuse. He said little things, like "I've got RSI from my trigger. In these fingers.", and he explained that he used his middle and ring finger to pull the trigger. He said that you alternate fingers because the gun gets hot and they start to burn a bit and they get tired from the exertion. It sounded real enough to me, and I think it's the sort of little detail you are only likely to know if you have actually done something like that.
He had some strange crazy terms, sentences that just didn't make sense at all. Like "if you get your kill ratio up you become an invisible soldier. That's what they call you and you can just lie down. Like the gay Sargent's. But then the priests will either shit on you or bless you. I did my kill ratio like 7 or 8 times, so they called me an invisible soldier. Because I could just disappear when we hit the ground." So I asked, "what do you mean the priests bless you or shit on you?", "They shit on you if you're lying on the ground. To see if you're still alive. If you're really dead then they bless you."
Anyway, totally bizarre. He got up in the morning, had some food and a coffee and then left. I guess I was worried a little bit about having some sort of drama, but despite his craziness he was civil and capable of having 'normal conversation' too. Like: "Would you like a coffee?", "Yes please.", "Sugar?", "Yeah, I'll have three", "Three?", "Yeah, I like it really sweet. Actually make it four.", "OK.", "Milk?", "Yeah, thanks".
I showed him some Iron Maiden video clips and he told me that he used to play in a rock band as the lead guitar player and that his band toured with Iron Maiden. Yep. That's what he told me.
There was one interesting point in the night when he went to bed and I went to bed. I couldn't sleep, so I got up and was on my computer for an hour or two. He ended up waking up an hour or so after he went to bed (he was sleeping in my bedroom, because I sleep on the floor in the main room of my house as a matter of course), I guess he wasn't able to sleep either. So we chatted some more and ended up in the kitchen making coffee (we made lots of coffee while he was there). I had a massive chefs knife sitting on the bench, and big, heavy, serious knife. When we walked in to the kitchen it was obvious that we both saw it there on the bench, and we both sort of looked at the knife, and then looked at each other. Each of us was probably thinking "Fuck, what have I got myself into", but as it turned out, everything was fine, neither of us actually said anything about the knife though.
Well, that's about all I have to tell. There were plenty of interesting little things that happened, but this story sort of gives a pretty good (albeit scattered) description of most of the 'gist' of the evening. In the end when the guy left, he forgot to take his belt with him. He also left me some of the food that the welfare system had given him. A kilo of sugar, some weetbix, 500g of margarine, some jam, etc. I gave him a pack of Port Royal rolling tobacco. I didn't want his food, but he felt indebted to me and really wanted me to have it. I think he really appreciated the shower, and his washed and dried clothes (and the smokes). Plus, despite it being very bizarre, each of us were just lonely blokes who didn't have anything better to do, so it was good for each of us to have some company. I'm glad that the guy left that stuff at my place though, because a day or two after it happened, I was thinking back and wondering if *I* had gone insane and just imagined the whole thing, it was comforting to have the physical artifacts that validated my story.
Often I am frustrated that I am not able to communicate with people. I guess though, that I'm doing much better than this guy. (Whose name I have now forgotten).
Anyway, talk about "gay Sargent's", "invisible soldiers" and "sex change from woman to man after getting raped by a bull" might be crazy, however, as far as I'm concerned it is no more crazy than talking about how you believe in God. I'm sure in his own way, he knew what he meant. He wasn't lying to me, I could see he was genuinely confused, and trying very hard to both understand his reality and have that reality be understood by me. I'm not sure if I did him any favors by playing along, but I think at this stage of his life he's a lost cause, I am glad that I was able to help out for a while though.
I'm the only sane person in this world.
The rest of the world is just trying to make me go crazy and infect me with their madness.
Wow, that's a nice thing to do...
I haven't seen any homeless guys on the trains down here, but that doesn't mean they don't exist.
I used to hang around RMIT's Melbourne campus a bit, and get asked quite a lot for some change. If I had some, I'd give them like... $2 or something...
But I work with a gal who actually took one guy into the subway store and bought him a sandwich, rather than give him the money, which is the better way about doing it.
I dunno about his stories... I've never been out of the country, and I never took notice of who Iron Maiden toured with LoL.
Anyways, it was a nice read m8!
I'm pretty sure his Iron Maiden stories were bullshit.. In fact, I could tell he was bullshitting when he was speaking about Iron Maiden, but he was different when he told his other stories (like the invisible soldier / priest of war stuff) and I think he believed it.
Thanks for the comment.