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Conversations with Tyler Roady Series - Tyler Back Home

Cold Call From Stan- Intro to Roady Series

This is a phone conversation between Tyler and his Step-father Stan.

Stan– You need to come home.
Tyler- How did you get my number?
Stan– Off of your mother’s phone, what do you think?
Tyler- Your house is not my home and I don’t want you calling me any more.
Stan– Your mother is in the hospital.
Tyler- (pause). What happened?
Stan– Car accident. She’s had surgery.
Tyler- Is she okay?
Stan– Well enough but she’ll be in the hospital for a few days and she’ll need to not do any work. Least that’s what the doctor is saying.
Tyler- How did it happen?
Stan– She’s been blubbering that I shouldn’t tell you but how am I going to ‘splain why you’ve got to come home.
Tyler- (pause). Was she high?
Stan– You guessed that one fast. How did you know?
Tyler- I’m not coming back.
Stan– Just a week.
Tyler-I’m not coming. Don’t you remember you told me to ‘get the hell out of my house and don’t come back’?
Stan– Yeah well we needed you to help support the family but you thought leaving was better, left Linda Wheeler, to do what? Work your ass off being someone’s lackey. You know Linda married Jake Stille? Could have been you. Everyone thinks you’re an idiot.
Tyler-Tell mom I hope she gets better soon.
Stan– Dammit Ty, your brothers need you. How am I going to take care of four kids? I’m working now, twelve hour shifts.
Tyler- Not my problem.
Stan– You get home and clean up this mess your mother made or I’ll be sure that she pays for it. You understand me?
Tyler hangs up.

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Conversations with Tyler

Interview with Tyler

This fictitious conversation is between Ashley Mann a journalist researching for an article about patrons of “Feed Our Souls” (FOS) homeless shelter in Cincinnati, Ohio.


Ashley : Tyler, tell me about the circumstances that brought you to FOS.

Tyler: I was hungry. (Laughs)

Ashley: (Laughs). That’s a good reason. What do you think about the process to get a bed?

Tyler: I’m not staying overnight. I have my car.

Ashley: You know the shelter is a warmer place than a car, safer too.

Tyler: Is it?

Ashley: Yes. (Pause with an unwavering stare)

Tyler: I’m sure that’s true but I’m fine with my car. It’s my space. I’m not good about sharing.

Ashley: You said you’re twenty-two. How long have you been living in your car?

Tyler: Two months, wait no maybe three.

Ashley: Are you working?

Tyler: Lost my job. My roommates kicked me out. Well actually I left. I wasn’t going to let them pay for my place even if they would have floated me.

Ashley: So FOS is there for you while you’re between jobs. What happened that you lost your job?

Tyler: I screwed up. Worked for a builder. I was learning a trade; you know brick work, how to put up walls, windows, a roof. But I partied too much. Came to work hung over, still drunk and almost got one of my co-workers killed. I was fired which I totally deserved.

Ashley : Not easy to admit.

Tyler: Yeah, but when I looked around there was no one else to blame. Not sure I’m over, you know, almost killing someone. Sobered up fast but my references were shot.

Ashley : Hard to find a job without a good word from someone.

Tyler: Damn near impossible and it didn’t help that I’m not cut out for working at a fast food place or the dollar store.

Ashley : What about family?

Tyler (sarcastic laugh) Don’t have any.

Ashley : No family? You’re an orphan then?

Tyler: Not exactly. My dad died when I was eight, but Mom remarried.

Ashley : And…?

Tyler: Stan doesn’t want reminders of Mom’s old life, tried to drive me out, but I had to finish high school at least, wanted to go to college. Yeah, that was a childhood dream.  And I have a sister but she’s in jail. I don’t think Stan even knows she exists. But that’s the way Mom wants it. She has her reasons.

Ashley : No aunts, uncles, grandparents?

Tyler: I thought this interview was about FOS.

Ashley : Yes, right. Sorry. It is but the background of FOS patrons helps us understand the support that might be needed beyond a bed and a meal.

Tyler: I don’t need support. I just need something to eat now and again.

Ashley : Of course. That is our main purpose.


Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction based on the character in “Kill Words” by Clare Graith. Tyler’s blog can be found at EnTyleryWords.com (launching soon). FOS is a fictional homeless shelter. Ashley Mann is a fictional journalist. Any resemblance to real people and places is coincidental.

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Puzzle Posts

Get a Job – Flash Fiction on still being homeless.

Not everyone gets it. Why I’m still in a car. It’s been three cold months, since I lost my job. Shouldn’t I have been able to get work by now? Shouldn’t I? Maybe if I was you, but I’m me and me doesn’t know how to get back in the game. I had a plan. I worked hard to be part of the team, to learn. I was on my way. Twice I was tripped up by another guy who said I was white trash, shouldn’t be around the rest of them, skilled workers, tradesmen. I’m a man. I was learning a trade. Why can’t I be here? Leave me alone to pull myself up from my bootstraps. I’m not asking for a thing from you. Just let me keep the place I’ve won by hard work and proving I have it in me. But it doesn’t happen like that for guys like me, does it? Once down, always down. Why even lift my head and try again? Third time was my fault. Should know better then to drink until I couldn’t stand. That was Dad’s way, Mom with her pills, not my way. Should have known better then to show up to work next morning. Would have been better to go missing a day. Almost killed Dan and he is a decent person. If it had been Jarrod, different story. I might not be so depressed if I gave him the fright of his life and lost my job over it. So here I am. I should try harder, consider flipping burgers rather than beg for one at the end of the shift when I know they’ll toss them anyway. I’ll figure it out, just not today.

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Coffee Fix

Once I begged for a cup of coffee. I had just two dollars and twenty cents to my name. I knew hunger was on the way in just a few hours. How much can two dollars and change buy? Not a lot especially if the stores in walking distance don’t include a dollar store. It was the middle of the summer. No holiday food charities going on. The closest place to go was McDonalds.

Walking into that place with the air redolent with a hundred different meals, I almost passed out from the thought of it. Ironically on the counter there was a plastic box with lollipops in it. Free for anyone who donated to the “Feed America” association. I considered giving up a quarter to have the quick energy but then I wouldn’t have enough for the dollar menu. My choices; a cheeseburger, fries, four chicken nuggets, a small soda.  I opted for nuggets and a burger. Was this a good meal? No, it was pure junk food; nutritional value minimal but the bun, breading on the nuggets and protein would hopefully take the empty feeling away for a little while.

Nothing to drink though and damn if I didn’t crave a cup of coffee. I watched an old man carrying a bag to the trash in his hand a hot cup that sloshed coffee right out of it. He was about to toss it when I was overcome with desperation.

            “Can I have that?” I asked. He looked up at me with his foggy eyes. He put his hand up, went to the counter, and asked for a fresh cup, free senior refill. He grabbed creamers and sugar and handed it to me. It’s on my list of one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me.


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Catch Me if You Can

I don’t want to get old. It’s not grey hair and wrinkles that I fear. It’s hobbling instead of walking. The one thing I have that no one can take away from me is my strength. If I have to run, I can run. If I don’t sleep, I’m okay, not a big deal. I can climb the side of a building if I have to. Did it once, up a drain pipe. I can pry open windows. Did I say run? Comes in handy if maybe there’s a mammoth sized guy who’s convinced you stole his machete in the night. He doesn’t need a weapon. His hands are like oars. He could sweep me off the face of the earth with one swing. He has to have some prehistoric DNA in him, legs like a dinosaur, five of my longest strides in one of his.
If he catches me I’m toast, skewered and crisped ready for dinner for T-Rex. Even though he is hot on my trail, I’m sure that stealth and speed will save me. I leap over a fence and he plows right through it, stepping over the sagging steel. How is that possible? Am I in a nightmare where every way of escape is booby trapped with another horror? He’s stomping toward me and this time I face an iron fence, with spikes at the top, I’m not sure I can scale it without snagging some critical goods that I’m not ready to sacrifice, another part that freaks me out to lose to age. My hesitation is too long. He pins me against the fence.
“Hey man, I didn’t take your knife. Who told you it was me?”
“Birdie said so. He saw your skinny ass take it.”
“He’s the biggest liar around. You know that hat he wears?”
“Yeah.”
“Used to be Jo-Jo’s. Ask him. He’ll tell you. Did you check Birdie’s cart?”
“No man, he said it was you. I saw you walking by.”
“But you can see I don’t have it.”
He’s confused. Must be how long it takes blood to pump up to his brain.
“Go find Birdie.”
He likes this idea and releases me. I don’t wait around but get over the fence, carefully, then I step on the nail on the other side.

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Don’t Miss Her

If someone says they love you but they’re not around to give you that love, do the words mean anything?”

First off, I never said I loved her. Second, I had to leave. Couldn’t stay. Needed a trade, a future. She could have come with me but the unknown scared her. I knew when she found someone else. Her voice was different. She didn’t complain. She listened to my rant about Jarrod, how he set me up to take the blame for his mistake. She didn’t interrupt, or tell me that she didn’t want to hear about my stupid job and when was I coming back to work in town. I stopped mid-sentence, told her good bye and that’s the last I heard from her. I don’t really miss her. I miss what I thought I had. The meaning of the days hanging by the river, sitting on the rocks, the noise of the water giving us privacy to talk about everything. How we rolled into the water making out and she lost her phone. She would have been in a world of trouble but I gave her the money for a new one. It just meant I’d have to wait a little longer, work a little harder to buy a car. She didn’t know then that the car was my ticket to get out of town, take the job Gary offered me. She probably would have thrown the new phone in the river if she knew that. I guess it all worked out anyway. We didn’t break up. She gave up. If it happened then, it could happen even if we were together, right? Maybe or maybe I’m just being too hard on her. We were just kids with lots of dreams. She dreamed of marriage. I dreamed of a house. Bet she has her dream. I’m living in my car.

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Travel Light

There are very few things a person needs to have with him. Some cash or a debit card tied to an account that actually has money in it, a good pair of socks in the winter, a good pair of sandals in summer, a knife. I’m not talking about a switch blade. A utility knife or better a Swiss Army knife with all kinds of gadgets in one simple object that slides easily into the pocket and if you can handle it, an old fashioned handkerchief and a bit of duct tape rolled up on a nail. What’s that all about? Well, you can use the handkerchief for any number of things not the least being impressing a girl who happens to tell you a teary eyed story about how some guy treated her like trash. Pull out that handkerchief and hand it to her and I can promise you she’ll think you’re a saint, might even ask you over for dinner. It’s a meal ticket. Other than that, if ever you have the unfortunate experience of slicing your hand open on a sharp gutter, you can wrap the wound with the handkerchief and secure it with the tape. And the nail? It’s the one I pulled out of my foot. It went clean through the sole and into my heel. I had to limp my way into a clinic when it became infected. For awhile I wore the blood stained nail on a string around my neck to remind me danger lurks in unexpected places plus it’s a good place to keep a bit of tape.

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Beautiful Ears

Courage isn’t worn on a person’s sleeve. It goes unnoticed like nice ears. Who ever notices if ears are perfectly symmetrical; not too big, not to small, lobes just right? It’s not like a pretty face or a high forehead that makes someone look smart. Everyone can appreciate those features. I’m not sure I even know what my own ears look like. Yet people are walking around with perfect ears.
Why is that like courage? Courage is not obvious and it’s often confused with admirable actions. Like for instance, handing a blanket to an old lady sitting on a park bench, snow under her feet, night stretching from trees behind her, arms and legs thin, fragile like glass, is that courage? Or is courage to sit on the other end of the bench and not move, listening to her mutter the name Fred, nodding as she turns to you and tells you he was a kind man. Knowing that every minute with her means you’re out in the cold longer and didn’t you feel a sore throat coming on? Won’t you lose a spot at FOS shelter? Miss the dinner hour?
Is it courage to make a phone call to social services and report that she may need help or is courage bringing her a cup of tea, because you guess she drinks tea and she does, and so did Fred. When she talks about how they would sit in the kitchen and drink tea, you take that window of opportunity to encourage her to go home but she wants you to walk with her because you remind her of her Fred. Is that courage? Is it courage to say hello every single morning when you pass her by or is it courage to ring her bell, visit, look at pictures of Fred and little Bobby who lives in California and Maggie who died of cancer ten years ago? Courage isn’t obvious. It goes about in a person and no one may notice yet it’s still there, beautiful, kind of like perfect ears. Have you looked in the mirror lately? What kind of ears do you have?

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Grandma Knows Her Slang

They say nutrition is more important than sleep. Okay so maybe only Betty says that, but let’s just start with that being a fact. I know this much when I don’t have decent food, my skin gets dry and itchy. It could be from exposure. I’m so unlucky to end up living in my car in the winter. Actually it’s not being in the car that’s the problem, I have a subzero sleeping bag. It’s walking around outside during the day. If I was smart, I would stay in the library, my home away from home but fresh air calls me and sometimes I pick up odd jobs to bring in some cash. That’s how I met Betty. I was parked in front of her building for a couple of days. She came rapping her bony hand on the window one morning saying she needed help with groceries. I wasn’t even awake. She waved five dollars so I figured it was worth my while to get out of my cocoon and help her. I carried her bags up two flights of stairs. She sprinted right past me! Crazy old lady. She made me wait while she unpacked her stuff. There was a cup of coffee and a biscuit in it for me, so when she took out a bunch of spinach and started saying how nutritious food was more important than sleep, I nodded. “Everyone thinks spinach can’t be tasty because it looks like a weed. But all you need to do is put some pepper on it, sprinkle it with salt, a little sesame oil, and it’s the bomb.” Which totally cracked me up.

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Bird of Prey

It’s chasing me, talons glinting in my peripheral vision, ready to rip off my scalp, expose my brain and turn it into mush so I’m blind and go about groping, lashing out to find my way. My shield against this attack is paper thin. Though I try to bulk it up with the kindness of others, there are not many entries on that page, not much to cover the wounds festering in my soul that call the enemy to stalk me.
Solace is hard to come by when on my darkest days, I’m surrounded by the beast’s minions, picking at my scabs with small jabs of judgement, giving me sideways looks of disdain. Is it my hair naturally messy or maybe greasy flat? Is it my backpack looking like it’s brought me through a jungle? It has and it does. It could just be that I’m obviously not with someone, collapsed into a vinyl cushioned chair, nose in a book, not making eye contact with another human.
I don’t know but there it is, the great shadow hovering over me, and the flock of his helpers badgering me, breaking down my defenses so I can be eaten alive by bitterness.

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