Speaking of wearing black trash bags and crying, our friend Kelly's got a little story to share...
Heading down the stairs to the train I’m pretty well aware I’m descending into a netherworld of filth and well, whatever. I’m able to ignore the splats of vomit, the piss, and the mice and rats, but one night gleefully traipsing down the stairs with some friends, none of us weighed by a care in the world, I heard a gasp and then a scream. What we’d peripherally thought to be a lump of black trash bags in the corner had stood to a full six feet in height and was standing, arms outstretched, like a scarecrow of urban filth.
A transient of some sort had covered his full body in industrial garbage bags—face, hands, toes, all of it—and was now getting himself adjusted, probably to let some toots or urine out. Can you even imagine? At this point, we were all screaming. Then we went home and forgot about it. Well, they did.
I saw a movie once where a guy took his friend to some back alley whorehouse to scare him. The scary part was that the hooker inside was an old fat grandma who waved toodle-ooo when they rounded the corner to her crusty room. Seeing the Trash Bag Man made me feel like how that scene made me feel. There was a time when I would randomly turn to my girlfriend and ask, "Do you remember that fucked-up movie?" Now I turn to her and ask, "Do you remember the Trash Bag Man?" A few nights after we saw him, I was trying to have sexual intercourse. A little bit of sweat had run down my crack, dried, and created an itch. I started wondering if maybe I had worms. Butt worms.
Then I thought about the Trash Bag Man, and how he must FOR SURE have worms. I have the luxury of being able to sneak off to the bathroom and just really scratch my butt in private. There is no such thing as privacy for hobos. Even covered in a trash bag, if he does something too physical in there, it's gonna make a flapping noise and alert everyone. Being cloaked by the darkness of a trash bag, he creates a shadow puppet in my imagination with each movement. Did he just sneeze? Is he a stomach sleeper like I am? Is he drying his tears inside his own private hell?
It's all really too much to think about. I decided to return to the scene and visit with this man and find out why he’s chosen to live his life in a trash bag and fuck with my valuable daydreams. Here is as accurate of an account of our meeting as I can recall. Most of the tale is in the Trash Bag Man's own words. Which I have made up.
Vice: Excuse me? Hello? Sir, I can't tell what's what since you're in a trash bag. Am I knocking on your hamstring right now?
Trash Bag Man: ROWWWWWWWWWWWWR!!!!!!!!!!!
Oh, I see that I've awakened you. I was just hoping to ask you a few questions about your life.
(Trash Bag Man rips a small hole in his trash bag with his long, yellowed fingernail and slowly tears it wide enough to poke his head through. He looks a lot like the homeless woman who pops out from behind a dumpster in Mulholland Drive. The warm blanket of stink emanating from his hole convinces me he’s shat in there for a really long time.)What do you want? Can't you see that I'm really busy with all of this shitting and pissing that I've been doing?
I'm very sorry to disturb you, but you made my friends and I scream really loud when we saw you rustling around in your trash bag house a few months ago, and I was hoping you could tell me the story of your life. Do you have worms?
You look soft. Fuck yeah I have worms! It's moist as crap in here! My privates look like a bloated lung covered in mold.
You've ruined my life.
Get in the bag, bitch!
Anyway. Why do you live in a trash bag? Most hobos just hide under some dirty rags in the corner. You must know that you smell like a filthy foreskin. Why would you purposely keep all of it in there? You're making me so uncomfortable.
No one has ever expressed interest in my story, and it would do me good to get it off my chest. I live in this trash bag because bitches be trippin’ and fools be trying to take my eyeballs. I'm Mr. Clean! I'm motherfuckin’ Batman! I bought a condo with the hair from my asshole!
Wow. This is not making me feel any better.
Can you at least tell me where you got a black trash bag big enough to cover your whole self?
(Starts singing a broken verse from Sarah Mclaughlin's song "Building a Mystery.”)
OK. Well I'm sorry I asked. I'm going home now.
I'm a Jiffy Pop of AIDS!!!
I made my way for the exit when the Trash Bag Man started laughing and even though I wasn’t there to witness this, he didn't stop for a solid 20 minutes (so I guess the answer is yes, the lonesome falling tree in the forest does make a sound). I started crying, and decided it would be best to just put the thought of him out of my head. I turned to get one last look at him before I rounded the corner, and saw him trying to crawl up the stairs in his bag. "I'm crawling on my dick!" he said. I just shook my head.