This was my first night staying in a hostel. Sitting in that room anchored me from drifting in the currents of the city’s streets. I was cut away from eyes and bodies that could see and touch what I could not hide. Staring out the window, smoking a splif, and eating a burrito, I was happy to, if just for a night, watch the world instead of it watching me. I got reborn taking a shower. The hot water was the warmth of a sunrise. Night was dirt melting off me. 2:30AM glowed in red. A blue backpack sat on the empty bed across from mine. Closing my eyes, I hadn’t laid in a bed in two weeks, but I couldn’t sleep, wondering whose backpack that was. Someone came in and turned the light on. I opened my eyes and met a behemoth. His head was a bowling ball with two eyes and a mouth for holes. His name was Brandon.
“Hey, what’s going own brotha,” he said.
Oh, they put us together. His thumb practically touched his knuckles when we shook hands. I apologized for the smell.
“Aaw that’s all good. I’d smoke if I had some weed.”
“Where you from?” I asked.
“I’m from Chicago, man. I’ve been out here befoe, bout five years ago. Had to leave Chicago, man, but I want to go back. I miss it,” said Brandon.
“What are you, man? You a Five Percenter?”
They believe themselves to be conveyers of truth, poor righteous teachers, Gods of the Earth. Five Percenters are enlightened. Ten percenters are politicians and corporations controlling 85% of the world’s population.
“No,” I said.
“You seem like a Five Percenter. You remind me of a lot of dreads back home.”
“Is that your book on the shelf?” I ask, nodding towards the dusty white book shelf. Nothing was on it, but Herman Hesse’s Journey To The East.
He pulled a large brown leather book out of his backpack. In gold it read The Wisdom of Islam from North America.
“You into Islam?”
“Yeah, I’ve been studying it since I was a kid.”
In his bass tone voice and autistic-like delivery he sputtered about finding a job, sleeping outside, and spending 75 days in jail “for some shit” he didn’t do. He was working as a bodyguard for a prostitute. He would stay in the room while she fucked her client.
“Man, I started jacking off man. Then she don’t want to pay me, talkin bout she gotta give her money to her pimp. I was suppose to get $50. Then I was like suck me off…”
He shakes his head as if to say, it was unbelievable.
“And she claimed that I tried to rape her. Bitch was crazy. I didn’t touch her, getting hysterical making up all types of lies. Man, you ever been to jail?”
“Man, I’ll let you go to bed.”
Reading that big brown book, he stayed up for two hours. When he laid down, the frame of his twin bed creaked and squealed in agony. I crack my eyes open to see him in fetus position. With a thin navy blue quilt stopping at his knees, he looked like Sasquatch with a baby blanket. Please God, don’t let this man choke me out in my sleep.