Saturday, March 27, 2010

There Once Was A Man From Ocala

...Who'd went there, expecting a gala
But then the police
Did disturb his peace
And spooked him just like an Impala.
(Impalas are skittish)

I was up with the sun this morning. I had $24.55. I have sent Karrie a total of $28.01, since arriving here (plus $7 in stamped envelopes and Money Orders) because I love her. I could be walking around with 60 bucks if I hated her. It burns me up, to think about it! (just kidding, Karrie! LOL)

Yesterday, I went out to the ramp and made 20 bucks or so, before a very nice cop pulled up and saying "You're not from around here, are you?" went on to tell me about the ordinance within the city against reaching out and taking money from some one's hand, I think he said. This skirts the issue of panhandling being defined as asking for money, which I don't ever do; I just play. So, it's against the ordinance to take money from some one's hand in Ocala. I have to hand it to them, that's pretty clever.

"Hey Lou, can I borrow ten bucks until next Thursday? Just lay it on the sidewalk and I'll pick it up..." I guess.

He told me that I could move down to the next ramp and I would be in the county, where the ordinance has no effect. One more mile to walk. I am heading that way after I finish here.

First, I must stop at the police station and try to retrieve my ID card, which was never handed back to me by the undercover cop in the park. One would think that they would be in the habit of handing them back, since they do it SO much.

I sent Karrie 6 of the 20 bucks, and then went and cooked fish and had fish and bread and would have had collard greens, but have forgotten where I misplaced the can opener.

I Am Going Back To Jacksonville

Tomorrow, if all goes as planned, I will wake up with the birds, pack and meet John near the library at 10 am. I will then ride in the back of his truck, back to Jacksonville, which is "the devil that I know." In the cab of the truck will be John, his fiance, Ester and Ester's wedding dress, which will occupy the back seat because she "doesn't want anything to happen to it."

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Stripes Are In

Monday, Things To Do:
  • Bag up Trash

  • Walk to the Bus Station

  • Go To Jail

Monday, I was up realatively early. I had about 14 bucks on me, and was intent upon going out and playing the exit ramp. I got to the bus station just as the busses were gathered and ready to depart. They all meet together there and leave simultaneously for all points.

There was a guy there who said the he would "hook" me "up" if he could play a song on my guitar. I let him play, he gave me one dollar, and then the busses departed. I had one hour to kill, so I went through the park to the little store and bought a can of Busch beer. I sat in the park, leaning against a large tree, which I surmised would shield me from view.
A car pulled up and two burly guys got out and milled about, reading the inscriptions on statues and strolling down the path, acting like tourists. When they got near me, they stopped acting like tourists and started acting more like undercover cops, badge under the lapel and all.
They informed me that I had an open container, and went on to add that, even if it wasn't open, the possession of it was illegal in that park. There are no signs posted to enlighten anyone of this peculiarity, and those poor souls who hop off a Greyhound, and ask directions to the nearest store, have no idea that the park is like a spider's web, and the cops have 8 legs.

They Take Me To Jail

They called for a "transport," and one showed up in the person of a black female cop, who drove me to the Marion County Jail, while talking and giggling into her cellphone the whole way. Say, isn't that against the....never mind!

The Judge Lets Me Out

The Judge was a woman, who appeared on a TV screen. She said that anyone wearing a blue striped uniform is there on a misdemeanor and that she would probably be able to sentence them then and there. I looked down at the color of my stripes (shown above.) She had dealt with a group of misdemenors before me, so I had the battery of questions memorized. I said I wasn't going to hire a lawyer, that I would represent myself. I said that I was pleading "guilty," gave her my age, how far I went in school, said that I could read and write English ("though some of my college professors might take issue with that statement," *judge smiles for the first time that morning*) I then said that I wasn't currently under the influence of drugs nor alcohol.

"Currently, huh?" quipped Her Honor.

"Nobody has coerced me into entering this plea, or threatened me, and at the risk of sounding presumptuous, I enter it intelligently."

I saved her a whole lot of talking, sparing her from the 12th rendition of "the questions to ask misdemeanors," She smiled and said "Well, I guess this isn't the crime of the century," and the gates swung open. (8 hours later; they are SLOW in Marion County.)

The money, which I stash in my secret hiding compartment for just such occasions, was still in my secret hiding compartment. $11.48. I went to the store and bought a can of beer (heck, yeah) and hid myself very well behind more than just one large tree, drank it, then caught the bus back to camp. I would need to be up early and hit the exit ramp hard on Wednesday, trying to come up from $11.48 minus the beer, minus the bus fare.

I Come Up A Bit

Wednesday morning came. I was up with the sun and took the two busses out to the highway. I was nervous. If I didn't make a cent, I would have just enough to return on the bus, flat broke. I would then have to resort to selling off some of the packs of Marlboros, which the Lidgleys gave to me last week.

I got out in the median with my sign which read "Thank You 4 Stimulating The Economy." The economy was stimulated to the tune of about 44 bucks. I bought two Whoppers for 4 bucks, causing me to miss the next to the last bus back to town. I got the last one. On it was a guy who had been on the one that I took out there in the morning. "How did you do? Did you come up some?"

"Yeah, I'm grateful," I said. "Good for you," he said.

Police Visit Tent

This morning, I slept a little longer in the morning. I heard noises, and then I saw them. Cops, trying to find a path into the woods. One of them fell when he tried to use a rotted, fallen tree as a stepping-stone.

Then, the first one appeared and ordered me to show him my hands. He asked if I was alone. "Are you sure," he asked, noticing that my tent was at least a 4-man one.

He said that there was a complaint about someone staying "back there." It turned out that the complaint was about some laundry which someone had hung over the trees to dry after last weeks rainstorm. They said that they weren't going to arrest me. We had a nice chat about how I should use the library to post resumes on because "You seem pretty intelligent, there must be a better way than this *gestures toward the tent*"

Then, they were on their way, and I am on my way, and the world is still turning.

A Letter From Karrie

My mom told me about a letter from Karrie. I had an impulse to call her last night. I lost a buck into the phone and then some really cool rainbow kids let me use their cellphone. Karrie is lonely and "lost" and has gotten and spent the money, which I sent. I am going now to send her some more, and then will try to get an hour or so of playing in at the ramp. If I make out alright, I will add to the amount in the letter, since it won't go out until 9 am., according to the mailbox.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Working Week

It is Monday morning. I woke up with $14.90.
Last night, I cooked fish on the fire, seasoned it with a combination of condiments from Burger King, Taco Bell, and Kangaroo, and ate it, while the night grew dark. I must have been asleep by 9 pm.

I woke up before dawn and was ready to start the day. I figured the first busses out of town might begin to run at around 6:30 am. I was thinking this as I drifted back to sleep and then woke again with the sun up. After cleaning out the tent, packing my pack, brushing my hair etc., it was 10:18 by the time I got to the Kangaroo for a morning energy drink.

"Wait, I'll Go With You!"

Now, I will take the Orange Bus out to the interstate and press my luck further, in hopes of bringing some booty back to Jacksonville. As soon as I have Greyhound money for Savannah, I will go there to prepare a place for myself, and possible Karrie. Waking up alone in a tent can be a bummer, but it sure is easier to "get up and go," when you don't have to have a conference over things, or have to wait after someone say's "Wait, I'll go with you!" I miss Karrie at odd times, like when I smell a clean sheet!
The "Savannah" (right)

I am still considering riding the Peugeot bike to Savannah, playing the highway along the way.

Savannah (left)

I am back to using a sign which reads: "Thank you 4 Stimulating the Economy" It's kind of a poke at Obama in my mind, but can be taken otherwise..

Any time now could be my last time playing that particular ramp. Then, my options here will be few. I might be able to make a few bucks, hanging coupons for John. We return to Jacksonville next Sunday. Off I go, trying to make a dollar.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Marathon Walk

A Walk To The Marathon

I walked to the Marathon last night, thinking that I would take the bus back, weather or not I had made any money. I stopped and retrieved the cigarettes from where I had buried them, not far from a pond like the one to the right. I can't be more specific, because I don't want anyone finding the Marlboros.
A stop at the Marathon revealed another employee behind the counter. A female foreigner. She told me that she couldn't allow me to sit outside and play, without consulting the foreigner who runs the place.

I sat with some homeless types, who let slip the corner where they fly their signs. Very soon, they will go to the corner to fly their signs and there will be a guy there, jamming on a guitar and having made more money than they would have, in the same period.

I went to Wal-Mart and bought some food. I wanted to have fish and vegetables. I got tin foil and some Ocean Perch. I started to plan upon where I would cook it. The spot deeper in the woods, where the park bench is, came to mind. I just missed the bus by a couple of minutes, I was informed by a smirking young man, as I stepped out of Wal-Mart. How miserable must his life be to find his pleasure in informing people that they had just missed the last bus into town, with a smirk on his punk face?

I walked the three miles back to camp, stopping near the end of the walk, to drink beer with a guy who I ran into in front of the golf course, and who played the guitar. He was offering the beer. We sat just off of the fairway, next to a sand trap and enjoyed each other's company for about an hour. I stopped at the Kangaroo in order to grab "condiments" to go with the fish.

I got back and built a suitable fire and cooked the fish, along with a baked potato, etc. It was a good meal, and I layed down and didn't wake up until I heard the raindrops on the tent.

It Rained

It rained from before sunup until almost 2 in the afternoon. I would have been very wet, yet, the tent performed like the $160 tent which it was purported to be by the guy who gave it to me in front of the Big-Lots in Mandarin. Now, there is not much to do, except go to the mission for the first time, eat for free, and then plan upon how I will stay out of jail for 8 more days, until John leaves for Jacksonville. It will take a miracle to keep me in Ocala.

Hope Is Alive That Karrie Got My Second Letter

I am thinking that the letter, which was returned to my mom, based upon the postdate, was the first one, sent to Duval County. It had no money in it, but a note explaining that I wasn't sending money becoause they would confiscate it when she got to St. John's. I'm sure that it was, because I didn't take the bus here until the 10th, and the letter was post-marked the 10th.

Maybe Karrie has her honey buns, yet.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Wednesday Into Saturday

The Lidgleys Visit
Wednesday came, and along with it, the Lidgleys, Alyne and Mike. I was waiting at the Dominos with John. The Lidgleys had made a wrong turn and were delayed. John offered me a sandwich, and I was eating it, when they pulled up, ready to go for lunch. We found The Golden Corral, despite the "directions" which we were given. I had all that I could eat, and a wide variety, so as to obtain trace minerals and vitamins found only in things, such as pickled watermelon rind.
We talked about many things, including Karrie. It was a good meal, the vegetables were fresh, and they were very nice poeple. It was hard to talk about my plans, because I was still formulating them. They seemed to be wondering how I got where I am in life.
They dropped me off, along with a large bag of provisions. I hid the bag behind the Kangaroo, and then went off to find a place to pitch the tent. I have been playing Russian Roulette with the clouds for too long. I had to walk two miles toward the county line, before I found a spot that had room for the tent. I buried the cartons of cigarettes and left some of my clothing there. I then started walking the 2 miles back to where the tent and the rest of the stuff was, grabbing the stuff behind the Kangaroo along the way.
The next morning, I decided to explore further back into the woods where I have been staying. I found that it went back at least a couple hundred yards. Then I discovered an abandoned campsite. There was a park bench, a trash receptacle, and not much else. I wondered if the inhabitants moved out, or were ferreted out by The Law. I decided to pitch my tent in a spot, not as far back as them, in case the cops check there regularly. I got the thing pitched on smooth, level ground, then I hid Karrie's backpack, which now contains all the stuff I brought, along with all the stuff the Lidgleys gave us. I moved it away from the tent, so that if the tent is found by a thief, maybe the backpack will go unnoticed.
I Play The Interstate
I then started walking towards the bus station. I caught the Orange bus out to where the Interstate crosses Rt. 200.
"We Don't Have Any Quarters!"
I stopped at the same store and the same foreigner said that the same restroom is "still out of order." This time, he added something about his being tired of cleaning it up. I guess he has had some messy people who carry backpacks and guitars before.
I got a lager and went to the counter. His wife, (I assume) told me to hurry up because of "other customers." There was nobody behind me in line. My total was $1.80, and I was fishing for a nickel in my pocket, so that she could give me back a quarter, instead of two dimes when she scooped up the two dollars and shoved two dimes at me. I had found the nickel and said "I was going to give you this, so I could get a quarter, etc" She said "We don't have any quarters!"
I just left. You can't argue with some foreigners. They must have been having a bad day, what with the restroom out of order, and no quarters; I almost pitied them.
I fortified myself with the lager and then went out on the median and made 20 bucks in about an hour. Then, it was starting to get dark, and so I left. I discovered that the last bus out had left at 7 pm. It was 7:40 pm, and so I started the 6 mile walk back to the tent. I was out of cigarettes, and didn't want to walk two more miles to get another pack, so I spent 4 bucks on one. I will sell one of the packs of Marlboros for 4 bucks and re-coup it.
8 More Days Here
I can't see staying here much longer. The bottom is going to drop out of the one Interstate ramp, sooner or later. Now, I go to play at the Marathon, since the cigarettes are hidden out that way. I will also write Karrie another letter.
Karrie Letter Returned
Of all the rules of the jail which are enforced inconsistently, there is one stating that a letter sent to an inmate must bear the "jail number" of the incarcerated. The money which I sent to Karrie a week ago has shown up at my mom's, returned. Poor Karrie is sitting in there and almost three weeks have gone by without her having heard from me. She must feel forsaken.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I'm In A Church Choir Now

I Sing Gospel In A Church In The Hood

I'm in a church choir now.

Last evening, I was walking towards the general area of the shelters and churches which help the poor, and I heard a voice call to me.
It was a black man on a bike. He yelled "Yo!," or words to that effect.

I was immediately wondering if he wanted a cigarette, or to try to sell me something, or to try to lure me somewhere with promises of drugs and whores, and then steal my guitar; you know, the usual things that one wonders about....

He asked me if I played "the thing," and I told him that yes, I consider what I do to the thing, "playing" it. The thought crossed my mind: "Yo, my nig, how you tryin' a play ME?" This was because of the way I have been conditioned by past experiences, where things would have turned out better in the long run had I taken this attitude; anyways, I warily turned around. I was telling myself: "Don't be a totally snide smartass with your refusal to give him a cigarette." A lot of times when asked if I have a cigarette, I respond "Yes, I'm all set, but, thank you for your concern," for one. I was ready to pretend that I had absolutely nothing that he might want. I would tell him that I had just come from the pawn shop and they had said that they could only give me five bucks for my guitar, it being so messed up, and all. etc.

He asked me if I knew any "gospel."

I thought of the two times that we tuned into the AM 1400 station on consequtive Sunday mornings, Karrie and I, and how I had heard a couple songs twice, because of it (the one's which are played every Sunday, perhaps.)

To make a long story short, three hours later, I was standing in the back of a choirpit, singing as part of a choir.

Al, as he is called, after reassuring me of his creed to "hurt no man," led me to his house, (after we each grabbed a beer,) a short walk from the store. He opened the garage door, which revealed a garage, which had been detailed into a music/TV room type of room. His wife appeared, and we were introduced. Al put some gospel music on the stereo, which the group at his church was trying to learn. He seemed happy with my ability to work the chord changes out of the songs that he played. Partying and playing music ensued, and, before I realised it, I was on my way with he, his wife, and the "First Lady" of the church, I think she was called, to the church, which turned out to be in "the hood."
I went to the Wednesday night Bible Study and choir practice.

I Was The Only Caucausian There

They were musically tallented enough to be only missing one piece, I thought; perhaps a caucausian guitarist. There were certainly ones there who were pretty "serious" about the music.
We sounded pretty good, the 12 of us. And, as Al had "warned" me, I was the only caucausian there.

They sang one of the two gospel songs which I had heard twice on the gospel station, them being played upon consequtive Sundays. I don't want to toot my own horn, but I thought I sounded like Prince >>>>.

Prince, the pop singer, not Marzia Prince, the model (left). I haven't heard her sing (yet.)

The music was good, and has a lot of potential. The Lord must have put it upon his heart to suggest that I leave my guitar at the garage. We were riding in the First Ladies car, and room was of the premium, basically. It probably wouldn't have been good to show up and add a guitar to the mix, right off the bat.
Again, I think our stuff kind of sounded like Prince.

My Great Debate
I debate over weather or not to stay here longer.

I could probably stay here until the 28th, when John is going back to Jacksonville.

I would have to try to make money playing. I will have Al and his wife's hospitality for one more night.

After practice, I was allowed to sleep in the music room, shower in the morning, and have coffee, etc.

They know that I am meeting the Lidgleys tomorrow, and may decide to leave town. I am playing with fire in The Bold New City of the South (with the crappy football team,) because the same fate, which was Karrie's will be mine to try to avoid. Any day now, I may become wanted by St. John's County. They can't get me from here -not in the budget, I'm sure -and that is a reason to stay here. The reason to not stay here is all the accounts that I am hearing from people on the street, talking about Ocala. Many have said, that "They are trying to keep the jail full; It's big bucks for them, believe me!"

Monday, March 15, 2010

O (NO!) Cala

My Third Encounter With The Law

I started walking towards "the county," Saturday afternoon. A black woman pulled over beside me and actually asked me if I needed a ride. This is so out of the ordinary in Florida, where it seems to be "every man for himself." She drove me to the Wal-Mart. The ride was long enough to have me thinking about the walk back, and ruing it.

I got out on one of the exits and began to play. My sign read: "Street Musician Stimulus Package." I made three dollars quickly, then, a cop pulled up.

He was in an "unmarked" car. He identified himself as O.P.D., which I figured stood for Ocala Police Department. He said that I couldn't play my guitar there. "They don't want you here," was what he said. I told him that the other cops had told me that I could play in the county. He repeated what he said, and added enough information to make me think that he really was a cop and not some smart-ass in a Dodge Neon, trying to run me off because he had had a bad day and was looking to take it out on anyone.

The cops had said that the county started "past Wal-Mart" and I had been kind of playing ignorant.
The MarathonI went to the Circle K, where I was told that it was against company policy to let me play. I went across the street to a "Marathon" gas station and the kindly foreigner behind the counter told me that I could play, but, only "over by the air machine" thing. I sat over by the air pump, 50 feet from where people got out of their cars and went in the store. Nobody walked the 50 feet to throw me anything. I walked the 3 miles back to the spot where mine and Karrie's stuff is, and slept, after stopping at the dollar store and getting some sloppy joe sauce and a can of tuna.

Sunday, I was up with the birds, who have calmed down some. There is no bus service on Sunday, so, I walked the 3 miles back to the Marathon station. I figured that on a nice sunny Sunday, there might be a change of fortunes there. I had only made 5 bucks since arriving, 4 days prior.

I played on the spot, after being warned by some homeless types that I was subject to arrest for doing so. I knew that I had permission from the foreigner inside, and wasn't worried. It made me think that the homeless were baiting me, so that I would go away and leave the panhandling to them. I made only two dollars. A guy sat next to me drinking his beer and complimenting my playing. He said that he hoped that he wasn't interfering with my business by being there. I could never figure out if the presence of another person helps or hinders. On one hand, it looks like you have attracted an audience; on the other, it looks like one more mouth to feed and some people don't want to double up their tip, and they don't want to insult the two persons with 50 cents each, for example...
I Take My Chances At The Ramp
Monday morning, I decided to just go out to the off ramp of the interstate and dispense with all the other nonsense, roll the dice and get rich or go to jail. These are where I make 30 bucks an hour in Jacksonville.
I took the bus, and was at the ramp by 10a.m. I was nervous all the way there, wondering if the ramp would be accessible, if cars would stop in a line, or just whiz past, or if the interstate was in the "county," or the "city." I also knew that I was down to 33 bucks, and spending 3 of it just on bus trips.

I stopped at a store on the way and was accosted by a foreigner. "The restroom is out of order," he said, as I walked in. "Excuse me," I said. "The restroom is out of order, he repeated. I said "I'll remember that if I need to use a restroom." I went and got a can of 211 High Gravity Lager. I was going to go out and play absolutely sober, and almost did, but figured that one beer might only help.

I went out on the off ramp with my sign, which read: Street Musician Stimulus Package, and made only 6 bucks in almost an hour. I began to assess the risk vs. reward, of being out there and subjecting myself to the cops for 6 bucks per hour. I left.

I went and had another lager. I then returned to the opposite ramp, making only a few more bucks. I moved into the median strip and made a fast 7 bucks, and then, getting that creepy O.P.D. feeling in my spine, I packed up and left for the day. I had made 14 bucks the entire day, not enough to risk going to jail over. They will usually just run one off the first time seeing them. It is when a specific cop sees you a second time, after having warned you, that the trouble starts. With the Lidgeleys coming on Thursday, my thoughts were of them driving up from Orlando to visit, and finding me not there as planned. They might think that I had snubbed them, or was irresponsible. Since they read this blog, they might draw the right conclusion, still, it would have been a wasted trip for them.
Mind Racing, Considering Options
It is now Tuesday, and I woke up with about 42 bucks, up nine from yesterday.
I lay there this morning with my mind racing. I thought about the impending doom up in Jacksonville. I will suffer the same fate as Karrie, as soon as my citations turn into warrants. I thought about going to Jacksonville and getting my bike, and then travelling up the coast on it, playing One Day Stands along the Rt. 95 ramps. With the warmer weather, a tent and one sleeping bag would suffice, along with a couple changes of clothing. If I like it in any one spot, or, if there is employment of any kind (imagine that) I might settle for a while and maybe even take advantage of one of those programs "to reduce homelessness," which are out there. Some provide shelter, clothing, hygiene and assistance in obtaining work. The first step in a 12-step program is to admit helplessness. Checking into a program like that would make me feel that I had.
The British Are Coming, The British Are Coming!!
The Lidgeleys offered to give me a ride back to Jacksonville. I have two days to decide if this is the way to go. I will talk to the people who help the homeless here, and talk to the lady that runs The Wine Bar. Someone told me that he walked in there and was able to play his guitar for tips. He didn't say how much he made, but he also didn't say how well he played. Maybe, the Ridgeleys and I could do our dinner at The Wine Bar. That might get my foot in the door. They wanted me to select the place, and so far it's the only place that I have heard of. In the interim day before they arrive, I might try to play at the Marathon station again, to see if it continues to be futile. As I befriend the foreigner, he may allow me to creep closer to the entrance, (maybe six inches per night.)
Today, I had hoped to send Karrie a little bit more money. I had also hoped to make about 50 bucks yesterday, not 14...
A Nation Addicted To Sugar
I will probably wash my clothes behind some building, saving $2.50, and then write Karrie a letter while they are drying on one buck. I could send her just the couple dollars, which I would save. She could buy a honey bun for $1.20 and trade it for an entire breakfast tray. Such is the markup on a honey bun, once it goes within the confines of a jail. It's because they serve no sugar on the food trays, and this nation is addicted to sugar, amongst the other 11 or so things, which it is addicted to.
If you are reading this, I gave Karrie your address to return my mail, because I don't know where I will be. E-mail me, if you get a letter from her. I still don't know how much time they gave her. I might try to call. I am off to the shelter now, to see if they hold any hope for a better life here. I have yet to settle in here, and make a decent camp, as it has not been promising so far...
At least, I don't have to worry about the weather tonight.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Fourteen Dollars And One Cent

Karrie has been shipped to the St. John's County jail. It occurred at 10:18 yesterday morning, according to the website. I left the library and walked to the UPS store and bought a stamped envelope. I also got a money order for $14.01 and wrote her a 3 page letter and then went to the nearest mailbox and dropped it in, before something really bad happened to it. Such is the feeling, here in Ocala. I feel like I am the subject of a manhunt, and, at any time the police could jump out and yell "Freeze!"
A man who I spoke with, told me that the Marion County cops are known far and wide to be the worst in the state. "They'll arrest you for standing there, doing nothing." I wasn't exactly reassured.
After I mailed the money to Karrie, promising more if I ever got more, I walked to the store, and bought some tomato soup, corn chips, and a "hard" lemonade. They were out of Earthquake High Gravity Lager (I guess they hadn't factored my arrival into their order for this week.)
I returned to the spot where the Lord had shown me Thursday night. I had gotten to a point then, where the second round of thunderheads were about to overtake me, and I started to utter a prayer, something like: "Lord, you've never let me down before; you might not have given me everything I thought that I wanted, but you've...etc"
I hadn't even gotten past the "Lord" part, when, I looked and saw a building that was empty and for lease (like half of Florida,) Behind it was another which had a huge overhanging roof. I think it used to be for horses. I had found a piece of particle board which was just about my height and had exercised Option 3. and slept pretty well, especially as the rain started to pelt the roof, telling me that I had made the right decision, and that there would probably be no thugs out roaming the streets, looking for white boys.
My First Encounter With The Ocala Police
I returned to the same spot last night.
I had just about drifted off to sleep when the flashlights of the cops were on me. I thought about how the man had told me that they would arrest you for "just standing there," and I was glad that I was laying down.
They were apparently there because someone had broken a window and was sleeping INSIDE the place (as if the horse corral with the nice roof out back wasn't good enough! Some homeless people make me sick!)
I think they used "common" sense and figured that if I was the one who had broken the window in order to get inside, then why was I sleeping in the horse area. They train them upon things like that.
They trespassed me from the place and then let me go. I will sleep in the horse corral no more, under punishment of imprisonment.
I went back to the spot in the woods where I had gotten soaked, and slept adequately and didn't get soaked. My tenure in the horse corral was oh, so short, I thought.
My Second Encounter With The Ocala Police
I woke up in the spot where I had gotten soaked, dry, and being pestered by some birds, who seemed to think that they were there first. It is going to cost me some bread to stay there in peace any longer.
I thought about things, and prepared to go out onto the ramp to try to make back some of the money that I have spent.
I went to the Kangaroo and got an energy drink and then struck up a conversation with a guy, who has lived in Ocala for a while and knew "everybody." He wanted to hear me play the guitar and said that the cashier was "cool" and wouldn't mind me sitting and playing for tips.
I took out the guitar, tuned it and began to play. A cop pulled up and sat there. I had just started to play, and so, I didn't think that he had been called.
A man came and threw 5 bucks in my case, as I played "Eyes Of The World," by the Grateful Dead.
The cop walked over and said that he needed to see my ID, told me that there was an ordinance in Ocala against what I was doing. He searched me and my new acquaintance, who knew everybody. If asked why I thought this was necessary, I would say "Search Me." After he determined that I had no knives, no needles, no drugs nor anything else that he "should know about," he then told me that it was alright if I played "in the county," but not in the city. He told me where "the city" ended and where"the county" began (two miles down Silver Springs Rd. and past the Wal-Mart.) He didn't take me to jail because I was new in town and not necessarily expected to know the ordinance. Plus, I wasn't standing.
Now, I leave the library. It is Saturday evening. I will walk the two miles to where the city ends and the county begins. I will ask the guy or girl in the Circle K if it as alright if I sit and play in front of the store. If yes, I could make 50 to 75 bucks. If no, I will walk the two miles back to the spot in the woods where I got soaked and tell the birds "Shut up, I'm not in the mood!" Then I will sleep and wait for the Lidgleys to come on Thursday and ask them for a ride back to Jacksonville. I will have had enough.

Friday, March 12, 2010

A Crime That A Ghost Might Commit.

Drying Time
I left the library yesterday afternoon. The rain had stopped, just as the radar image from had seemed to portend. Behind the clear "window," which was over Ocala at the time, was a new and menacing green and orange mass, approaching from the southwest. It seemed to be grinning at me.
I knew that this was the time to seek shelter.
Karrie's backpack, along with the soaked sleeping bag were hidden in the woods behind a building. They were not hidden well, as, in the darkness of the previous evening, I had crawled in only far enough so that the street's light was diminished to the intensity of a common night-light. There, I had found the flat spot where I unwittingly rolled out the tarp and bag and slept under the stars. Stars turned into thunderheads, and thunderheads into tornadoes; the rest is history.
My Options Were?
Option 1. Was to get the sleeping bag and dry it at the laundromat, and then find a culvert, overhang, or deeper woods, where the tent could be pitched. This involved spending money, and, if I failed to find a spot and get the tent up before the grinning green and orange mass arrived, then I would have wasted money into the dryer...
Option 2. Walk to the Salvation Army and ask if I could stay there for one night.
I moved towards the Salvation Army. The city is so large that I was prepared for a five mile walk. I always had the option of sitting at a bus stop and taking the city bus the rest of the way, at any point.
I bought an Earthquake High Gravity Lager, and some cashew nuts at a store along the way. I found a place behind a vacant building, which was "for lease," like half of Florida. I pulled out a bag, which had been given to me that morning, as I was sipping my coffee in front of the Kangaroo, before going to the library.

A man, who looked just like a man in St. Augustine, who has done the same thing, handed it to me, saying: "Here, God put it upon my heart to give this to you," -just like the guy in St. Augustine said. Could he BE Saint Augustine? What's he doing in Ocala? least they couldn't get him for failure to appear!
There was a can of "stuffed" ravioli, a can of fruit cocktail, spoon-fork-napkin pack, and some literature about a church, which helped the poor. I read the scriptures about "If someone comes to you hungry and naked, and you tell them to go in peace and yet you give them not food, nor clothing, then, how have you helped them?" I paraphrase, of course.
I ate the raviolis, drank the lager, and listened to Sports Radio.
As I continued walking, I noticed that the jackets and shirts which I wore were drying out, making me think that there was yet another option, which didn't necessitate the drying of the sleeping bag. I want to conserve money until the sun comes out this weekend, and I am able to see if street playing yields anything. One good day, and another spent exploring further might put me in a better spot
My needs are simply to hide Karrie's stuff and the tent better, acquaint myself with the shelters and their ability to provide hot showers and food and laundry, and then to see how lucrative the off ramp of Rt. 75 and Rt. 40 is. If successful, I could choose my own food and do laundry on my own schedule. The library here has free Internet, and I have been spending hours on it, catching up on "housecleaning" type things, like answering messages which are two weeks old.
The Captivity Of Karrie
Karrie has not been transferred to St. Augustine, as of yesterday. They have until March 22Nd to pick her up, or failing that, releasing her.
If they let her out in Jacksonville, she will know where to find the "survival pack," which I hid nearby our campsite there. If they bring her to St. Augustine, then I won't have to worry about her being released any time soon. She has 5 charges of "failure to appear." (It sounds like a crime that a ghost might commit at a seance...)
It will cost me $1.50 and a miles walk to get to the ramp on Saturday. I woke up with $72 this morning; half of what I left the camp in Jacksonville with. Now I go to see if they have transported Karrie. I want to send her some money before such a point when it might be the sum total of all I have. I think a quarter of money will sufficiently show my love for her.

The British Are Coming

In the meantime, the Lidgleys are set to arrive in Orlando Sunday night. They will be here in Ocala on Thursday, when we will meet somewhere for dinner.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

One Night Won't Kill Me

Tuesday morning, I woke up without Karrie, for the second consecutive morning. It was a day of packing, deciding what to leave in or out, and watching the clock, so as to be sure not to miss the "nonrefundable" bus trip.
I wanted to leave enough for her so, that upon her release from jail, she could retrieve it. I also wanted to bring a lot of her stuff with me so that, upon her release, she might meet up with me wherever I was and I would have enough of her precious possessions (lotions and potions) for her.
I wound up packing about as much as I could carry.
I got to the Greyhound early, because I was worried about the fact that Karrie's name was on the ticket. If they didn't let me ride in her place, and there were no more buses out of downtown, then I would be thrown to the wolves, with all of our possessions and no way out of the ghetto, burdened by the weight of it all and unable to outrun the inevitable thugs.
I took the next to the last bus, in case this was to be the case.
The bus station cop assured me that it didn't matter what name was on the ticket. I waited 5 hours and read "The Carpetbaggers," by Harold Robbins.
I slept as well as I could on the bus ride.

I Get To Ocala

We got to Ocala. It looked like a bleak, barren wasteland. Ramshackle hovels, huddling in rows, looking like they were embarrassed, upon lots barren of plant life, except for the types considered "weeds" by horticulturalists and gardeners alike. Rusty, neglected items adorned the properties. We drove by a labor pool where a handful of worthies skulked about with their postures in attitudes which told the observer "...ain't nothin' happenin' today..."

A Harbinger Portending GloomThere was a girl sitting on the bench out in front of the bus station, which turned out to be directly across the street from the same labor pool. She had a wooden crucifix hanging from her neck, and she appeared to be pregnant. She said that she had just found out that she had lost the baby in her womb. Her boyfriend didn't seem to care, and "just kept on playing his video game" after hearing the news. She said that she had lived her whole life in Ocala and was desperately trying to leave. "Let me put it to you bluntly; Ocala sucks!" She added that there was no work here, no way to make money here, and that drugs and slothfulness are the order of the place; "everyone" being on Unemployment, food stamps etc.

She was helpful in pointing me towards the Salvation Army, and a couple of soup kitchens, as well as giving me their general schedules. She told me where to obtain hygiene products, in response to a question which I asked on behalf of Karrie.I decided to go and find my friend John, to see about a job.

I Almost Find John

I got on a bus and rode out to the College Road Dominos, thinking that this was where John worked. The bus ride was long. I had 50 pounds of freight, and had to walk with it about one mile to the store, where I was told that John used to work there "four years ago," but now worked at the Maricamp Road store. Could I walk there, carrying 50 pounds? He said that it was a 30 minute drive.

I walked the mile back to the bus stop, having adjusted the load, so that it balanced upon me much better. Karrie's pack on my back, guitar on the right shoulder, and my pack on the left shoulder, with the tent across the back of my shoulders, like a yoke on a mule. The tent kept my backpack from falling off of the left shoulder. As I began to peel jackets and shirts off, I used them as padding, under each shoulder strap.
I had my first beer of the day, while I waited for the Purple line, back to the center of town.
The Purple Line transferred me to the Red Line. Its driver was pretty sure that he knew where the Dominos was; not far, but, since the Red Line went in a big loop, it was going to be another long ride. It was as if we were at 6 'o clock, the Dominos at 5 'o clock and the bus going clockwise...

I find John

After an hour on the Red line, I needed to look for A john, before looking for John.

I found him, in the store. He hadn't changed much. He marvelled over the burden which I carried. He showed me a wall in his office, covered with pictures of he and his fiance, posing by his side in various places, like Jaguar's games and festivals and beautiful locales. She is a 20 year old Colombian girl, very pretty, and named "Ester".

He then gave me an overview of his store, Ocala in general, and then we talked about old times.

What Ever Happened To Derk?

He updated me on a former owner of three Dominos, who was hated by almost all of his employees. He was married with a couple kids, drove an expensive car, and did things like refusing to pay employees, based upon technicalities, and the fact that he owned three Dominos.
I had my most lucrative week ever, delivering pizza under Derk. He had driven most of the other drivers to quit. I made $729.30 in that one week. He was sending me out with 5 orders at a time.

Now, he is in jail for life, after he murdered someone.

He got caught cheating; lost a lot in the divorce, had a motorcycle accident; got addicted to pain pills; escalated to crack cocaine, and was in quite a state of mind when he shot a drug dealer in his car, in front of witnesses, because they had ripped him off. He was featured on Crimestoppers, along with his "accomplice."

John seemed intrigued by my life as a street musician, and seemed to think that I could do better as such. I could sense that he was in the grips of the Great Recession, along with everybody else, and there probably isn't much he can do to help me. He told me of spots where I could camp, gave me a ride to the library, and said that if I wanted a ride back to Jacksonville, in 14 days, I could ride in the back of his truck. He will be taking Ester there, to catch their flight to Las Vegas, where they will be married, with nobody else in attendance.

I think I will have to be a highway musician, at least until things improve.

I have 14 days to test the waters here and see if any of the ramps yield profit, before John leaves. I hope I do, as I am down to 85 dollars, after leaving with 140.

Could Have Been A Disaster

They charged me an extra 10 bucks for having Karrie's pack with me. It would have been a disaster, had I sent Karrie with the luggage, to ride the bus, while I rode the bike here, according to the way we had originally planned.
She would not have had the 10 bucks for the extra bag, and would have been in a dilemma. I would have sent her with some money, of course, but she might have drank it. Then, I would have been down here with nothing but a guitar and a bike, and no way to communicate with her.

A Tornado

I left the library and walked towards the forest, which John had told me would be a good spot to camp, being "not in the ghetto."
I lay ed
down upon the tarp (I was glad I had toted it) and the blue sleeping bag. I had chosen a convenient spot, rather closer than one where I would have felt comfortable pitching the tent. I was tired of carrying everything. I planned upon hiding most of it and just carrying the guitar and a light pack, to go out and play on the off ramp of Rt. 75 this morning.
Then, it started to rain lightly. I wrapped the tarp over me and went back to sleep. The rain got heavier and the tarp started to prove inadequate. I wound up pulling the rain-fly from out of the tent bag and sitting under it, with my guitar and the two packs, using the extended handle of Karrie's to prop the thing a bit. I tuned in the local station, hoping to hear that it was just a passing shower, instead, they said there would be thunderstorms all day, and possibly more at night. They also said that there was a tornado in the area, and to stay somewhere "safe."
I waited for a lull in the rainfall, threw the tarp over the soaked sleeping bag, the tent and the two packs. Then I put on my rain jacket, wrapped the rain-fly around the guitar and went to the store for coffee, and then here, to the library. I arrived very wet. The rain is supposed to continue with more thunderstorms tomorrow. I will be out of work, and may just swallow my pride and go to the Salvation Army. The good news is that the weekend is supposed to be sunny and "beautiful."
Lidgleys Coming
The couple from London is coming to Orlando for their annual Florida Vacation. We have been corresponding, (and in fact they read this blog) since we met like ships in the night in St. Augustine, last year. They want to meet for lunch or so, and now I need to e-mail them with more specific instructions as to how they can find me, without any margin for error. John's store seems to be an option. I must research a map to see if it can even be gotten to, from Orlando, without the series of twists and turns, which the bus took.
I will do that, and dry out at the same time. Then, if the rain has stopped, will go hide the stuff better and then go to the Salvation Army. One night won't kill me.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Bus Is Leaving

...At 1:45 tommorow morning.
I will be on it, but not Karrie.
Karrie Arrested Sunday Night
Sunday night, I played at the Baymeadows and 95 ramp and did fairly well. Karrie flew her sign on the opposite ramp, doing well enough to go to the liquor store and get a 1.75 liter bottle of Canadian Premium Whiskey.
She was returning to my spot, just as the cops were pulling up. They asked for ID, told me that what I was doing was "obstructing traffic." There was no money in my case, and I didn't have a sign, or else, I would have been doing something much more heinous than "obstructing traffic."
(I know how they think)
To our horror, Karrie's failure to appear on her myriad tickets came up on the computer, and they (St. John's County) said that they indeed wanted to extridite one Karrie Porras. I had thought that they wanted to get rid of us and would not do that. I felt terrible.
I took her backpack, promising to keep it safe and dry, and promising to send her a letter (with money, so she can buy lotions and potions from commissary.)
No Coffee Waiting
When I was unpacking her bag and I smelled her sweater, I felt terrible. I woke up lonely and depressed and wondering how I could have ever thought that she was a burden and a hinderance. There was no fire burning, and no coffee waiting....
Now, it is the evening before the bus is to embark. Plans have changed, and I will not ride the bike, I will take about half of what we were to have taken originally. If Ocala is a bust, I will come back here and re-group. I have been making 30 bucks per hour playing the ramps, and if my promised job of 7 bucks an hour doesn't feel right, I am out of there.
I plan to meet the Lidgleys, that is one of my prime aims in taking the journey.
Now, I go to mail Karrie $15....

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Stimulating The Economy

I am at a different branch of the library, struggling with a slow Internet connection. It keeps being "timed out." I think I just lost a pretty long e-mail to my friend Ted, in Boston.
Spring is coming in this year by taking 2 steps forward and then 1 back. It is back into the chilly zone again, when I can't play after the sun goes down, because of numbness in the fingers.
I made about 45 bucks in two and a half hours, Sunday. I had a sign which read "Thanks For Stimulating The Economy," and played the same two songs over and over, for the most part.
The day started with us up early and listening to the gospel station. I was on my spot by 1pm.
Karrie got 3 bucks on her spot, and then went to sleep in a palmetto stand, near enough to my spot so that she could hear me, and use me as a lullaby.
Monday saw 30 of those dollars disappear, as Karrie seems to take my prosperity as a cue to overindulge on one front (consumption), and take it easy on another (working.)
We went downtown; her tagging along; myself buying two of everything...
Our bus to Ocala leaves in 8 days. Our relationship maybe sooner.
Last night it rained and we got damp. This morning, we still had brandy left from a bottle which I bought before returning to camp. A lady downtown had given Karrie 10 bucks, I threw in 5.
Karrie was unable to complete her chores, citing "I'm sleepy," as the reason. I threw the trash away and got on my bike and came here. She returned to bed.
And that's the way it is, Tuesday, March 2nd.

Monday, March 1, 2010

I Hesitate

It is Monday. We have about 10 days before the ticket to Ocala expires worthless, or not.
The highway ramps have been lucrative. They make Saint Augustine seem like a joke (the city, not the saint)
I feel sorry for Larry and I hesitate to tell him how much money is out there on the ramps, for fear of seeing him on my favorite ramp, playing Neal Young.