Chapter 14: The Tribes of the Insane



The sun sank on the unquestionably hot day, and Morty was no where to be found. The weasels were returning to the fields from their daily suburban hunting packs, and you could hear the crunching of dog gristle and choking on hairballs amongst their squealing numbers. The calm breeze had wiltered to stillness and the baking sun stagnation had left the fumes rising off the roads tar as it liquified. The local winos stumbled from the dark shelter of the church and pulled their hoods off their head, airing their rough hewn filthy hair.

Being that everyone is drunk in Minnesota most of the time, at night it could be hard to ferret out the winos, especially in a small forgiving town. As they passed the weasels in their metaphorical time-clock changing shifts like nurses, they picked up the trail. Scavenging rodent meat and cosmetic byproducts in search of sustinence.

And such is the way of the world. These wino’s all had their own history, their own stories and pains. They all had their excuses and their fit of clarity and torrents of bad fucking luck. Each one had a sob story, and a sympathetic plea. They were jinxed and forgotten, born on a starless night. Their parents were alcoholics, or dead, they had mental illnesses, their days had been filled with self-loathing and addiction, they never mastered the basic skills to keep running, to stay on the other side of the line. They lived on hand-outs, of what people would give them, they wore what they could find and ate what they could scavenge.

Courage Falls was a small town, but sympathy was limited as it seemed that the local homeless were always shifting and unfamiliar. Sometimes their numbers would grow, but they rarely asked for money, and were hard to connect to any local crimes, but no one likes it when their town is known for having a high turnover of transients.

There were shelters available, mostly having to do with the local churches. There were people who had some genetic tick that made them feel obligated to give their time and money to these people. Largely because it picked a sense of guilt within them thinking that their lives had been so carefree.

How ironic, then, that so many preferred to catch rats in the street. The running taboo was aggressively panhandling, and those that passed through had an unspoken kind of conduct to keep to themselves. If one were spotted out in the day, they seemed to just look out of place, or were often in a hurry from the prying eyes of the local citizenry. Both sides avoided eye contact, and the limited police force seemed to busy fucking their sisters in their broken down meth trailers than to harass transients that really seemed to just pass through town.

The churches always had a few visitors, but were the rest came from or went to was a mystery to the rest of the people. They were just glad that none of them hung around too long.

In the most depraved, the mind of a wino is a malfunctioning automaton, an irrelevant cog in a mis configured simulation. The depraved wander, reacting to their environment, but not in a way that reflects any of their prior experience, they yammer beyond their own mental control and come across as deranged and crazy. That is, by definition, deranged in crazy. They may at one point have fit in the shoe, but their brain decided that they needed big toes in the bottom of their heels and sideways ankles. Their understanding of the world no longer reflected a simplification of what was fed by the world. They lost reflection entirely and simply deflected unpredictably what was presented them. It was almost instinctively pushing anything away from them.

These were the truly helpless, the kinds that the government takes an interest in them when it becomes a public safety issue. The rest of the time the bureacrats held the same opinion of every body else, empty-gestured sympathy and an unspoken feeling that they might just be better off if they died were no one ever found their body. When it became an issue, or they were forced to take them as a ward, the tactic was to put them away and leave them on megadoses of generic antidepressents. There is no incentive to insure the homeless, and implicitly it was understood that people who could not feed themselves were not worth the cost of intesive study or premium medications, let alone be set down a path to adaptability.

There were varying degrees of this, of course, but universally, this group was beyond redemption. Any actions taken could hardly even be considered the result of decision making, let alone any kind of rationale.

These kinds frequented the churches. Their aimless movements made them easy targets for the do-gooders who were convinced they were doing the work of a caring god. In actuality, they were too stupid to play scrabble, and too uptight to watch TV. Like everyone else in religious volunteering, they had too much priviledge to not have to join the rat race, and too shallow to look into their own development. They thought the only answer was to make people think like them by giving them basic things to think that they are spreading their luck, their affluence, their moral superiority with them.

They worked hard, they did the right thing. At least what they thought was the right thing. But they really didnt care about any of the people. There was sympathy, sure, there were twinges of sadness, but when asked why they spent so much time, so much effort to help these people. These pathetic automatons, these people who had no cognition, no senses, who lived on poor instinct. People, who, without the net of society would have fallen off of a cliff, or been eaten by a fierce animal went it was but a succulent, tender baby with mental illnesses. When asked, the volunteers would almost universally mention the satisfaction. The satisfaction of hard work, of making a difference.

Of helping.

These people helped the wretches. They helped them stay alive another day. They made sure they could spend a few more hours in delirium, in joyless misery, in an obfuscated cloud terrified by what they could see and what wasnt there, ranting their endless siren song, stumbling towards their own certain demise, their own destruction wrought by their inability to even care for themselves.

Yes, these good samaritans, these good church people, the ones helping, they did not bring one person back from the brink, they did not have any nurturing, they did not bring one of them into their home, or their life. They did not teach, they did showed only the most basic false compassion to these people that they really just wished werent in their town.

They did not change anyone’s life, they just made sure they lived long enough to go die in someone else’s town. Of course this was done in the name of caring and compassion, but in their mind these people were just animals, just stray mangy dogs that could not even catch a wounded shrew.

The church allowed people to stay overnight, but had many rules of conduct: no drinking, they had to be out by dawn, before the morning ceremonies, they had to sit through the preachers insufferable lectures, they had to be polite, and act humble and thankful. They had to squelch their own troubles and act as though each scrap of bread was the first merciful act that they had witnessed, they had to give the satisfaction that the housewives had slaved to earn and come to respect. They had to submit, not to the giant invisible monster in the sky that will make you burn for all eternity because he loves you, but to lonely aunt mildred who brings youthcakes and cookies for desert. They are not allowed to tell stories of their depravity, they are not allowed to confess their love of drugs and anguish over the supreme one, they must pay lip service, they must act like they have seen the true generosity and spirit of the holy light, they must pay their respects, and since they have no silver to stuff in the rectory coiffer, they must sacrifice that which they have already given: their dignity.

And this is why only the really crazy ones stayed in the churches at night. They were too unaware and too helpless to know any better.

There were also vagrants. They passed through town, sometimes they had a beat up old car, sometimes they were just hippies mistaken for disgusting homeless people, because they smelled so bad. A few had figured out a short circuit of which churches could be extorted, which volunteers could be sweet talked with a bumpkin accent and a pledge to do right. They knew when to show up, and when to skip a few days and join the rest in the rat hunt, so they could come back looking dissheveled and the old ladies would smile their empty smiles and wish their hateful well-wishings. These ones would sneak in and out in the commotion of the peak of the soup kitchens, they would would sleep in the outlying cornfields and had managed their own roots in this small town, and knew the traffic flows where they could hitch a ride, or sneak in the back of a pickup truck at the service station where the family men would stop off for malomars and twinkies for their fat diabetic children. These men would make their crosses and wag their tongues, and say “there but for the grace of god” and choose the same ignorance and chemicals that had built the foundation for their children that so many had lost their path on.

These were the most slothful, the ones who were smart, but lacked any interest in being in society. They were on the outskirts, but had fallen so far that they did not even want to shack up in the local trailer park. Probably for the better, it was full of methed up crack bitch sisters of the local police and was always swarming with drunken horny cops, rich with their pedophilic blood money. You would have to be even crazier than the lost souls in the church to set foot in there.

These were people who were borderline enough to not keep their lives together, or even want home. Some were early adopter survivalists, people who moved through the contry side and preferred to live with the animals in nature. They could kill deer with their bare hands and drank their piss if no water could be found. They retained enough sensibilities to deal with people only in the capacity that they could get something from them.

Like their urban counterparts, this breed of transient had spent their days exploring the area surrounding the small towns, they knew shortcuts, and hiding places. They were aware of the others in a cursory sense, and would occasionally cross path’s with another while they were in their maniac disguises, leeching from the soup kitchens. They knew well enough than to show their faces in daytime, they stayed in the area and were too recognizable for a bunch Minnesotan’s with nothing better to ddo than take notes on the people they didnt know personally that looked like they couldnt be trusted.

Survivalists, they had figured out the local landscapes, they knew the seasons and farms, they knew where they could hunt for rabbits and squirrels, and where to start a fire where it wouldnt be seen by the townspeople. A few had cultivated small caves, or scavenged tents from the town and set them up discreetly, away from roads and prying eyes.

Beyond these, there were the drifters, these moved from town to town, and were sometimes found in small groups. They were people who were more sociable and trusting, and did not have a taste for living alone in caves in the woods. They were not above lounging around town looking shady, or even passing through the trailer park. They occasionally hit the church circuit, and a few were charismatic enough to charm drinks from the locals at the tavern or pickpocket the dazed folks coming from the Electrology salon.

These were closer to the more common urban homeless many teenagers or young adults from unstable situations, some had turned to drugs, some were just pursuing a path less destructive than what they were born into, the ones with drug problems had still not hit bottom, and could still be seen as having hope for redemption, they were charming scammers, or could find affinity with a local who would see them as the dumb kid they used to be.

They stuck together, moved in packs, and while they didnt always trust each other, they knew they couldn’t trust anyone else. They were far from urban decrepitude, and were petty criminals at best, stealing cheeto’s and sodas when no one was looking. They were the reason most people didnt like the homeless around, but were generally the most social and least dangerous. They also usually had the sense to keep moving.

Like any small town, the local teenagers were sometimes hard to spot as different. With their limited exposure to the world, they stayed away from the outsiders and sought comfort with what few friends they had grown up with. They came from poor homes, and usually shunted the lives of the rest of the locals, being too familiar. They would joke with each other and spent their times wandering through the local parks, and trying to look menacing. Grouped by their insecurity, they grabbed on whatever local culture was available to them, and even more to what they thought was going on outside their small town.

The local kids who were from especially downtrodden situations glommed on to the drifters, they could see a life beyond the cards they had been dealt, they found friends who seemed to make more sense then what they had been hearing from their friends and families their entire lives. Eventually, even the most relectant of these most hopeless would find themselves homeless and without the means to stay in the relative comfort. Their friends would turn, or would find their despair burdensome, there would be no choice but to follow the recent drifters out of town.

These groups would comprise some of the best memories for those that were part of them. In a typical human drama of making the most of nothing, they would work together to scrape up their means of surviving, the newest and youngest would have to pay their dues: just to enter, they would have to be savvy at stealing from the service stations. When the convenient fare was finished, they had to do the skinning of local animals that were trapped by the more experienced hunters, they had to collect branches for fires and keep the late night lookouts in the cold months. When food was running low, they would live on the feet, intestines and eyeballs of the gamey rabbits that were slow enough to be caught.

This group had still not developed the proper survival skills, and did not have the background or interest to treat it as a science. They relied heavily on scrapping together discarded technology: radios, tape decks and old televisions. Too dependent on civilization, they were unable to keep an unobtrusive camp, and were constantly being shut down or being chased out of town.

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