I was down when I met Mike. When I say down, I wasn't sure I could get back up after everything I had experienced. It was almost my swan song. I lived in one of the barrios of Corpus Christi, Texas, where I was known as "Jason the white guy" because I was THE white guy that lived there. When I first arrived, I was jumped several times for the crime of being the white guy in the barrio but it was soon discovered that I'd fight back and fight back hard and so I became accepted in a segment of both society and reality that was practically devoid of hope. I certainly didn't have any. I had a will to continue for the most part (for some reason), a job that I managed to not get fired from (somehow) and a serious crack habit and it seemed very little else, but then I met Mike. Somehow, he had hope. Somehow, he had happiness. Somehow, he imparted those two things to me.
Mike was, and is, one of the finest human beings I've ever known. He was a homeless, legless, African-American man that refused to be beaten by life. I was smoking a lot of crack back then and had a problem with drinking, plus my PTSD was still pretty hard to deal with, the nightmares were pretty consistent at that point. Now, I laugh at people that feel sorry for themselves, but at that is where I was at. I smoked a lot of that crack with Mike.
This man, in most people's minds, had nothing to live for. He had no legs. His dick did not work. He was homeless, worse yet, could not receive Social Security because he was a felon. He was completely dependent upon the kindness of strangers. Luckily, he had a magnetic personality and a refusal to give up.
I was walking around thinking about killing some cops before they put me down like a rabid animal...then we started talking more and more. I'd be like, "Mike?! What the fuck are you so happy for?!" in reaction to his permasmile...he would giggle and scream, "I'M ALIVE!! BECAUSE I'M ALIVE!! I have to add at this point, I was also reading motivational literature. My paradigms were shifting. Knowing Mike pushed them along. He was ALIVE!
I went to rehab, quit crack, got a good job, bought a convertible Mercedes...every payday (every other Thursday), I'd stop by the convenience store that Mike begged at. I'd buy him a big Heineken and a sandwich (he didn't always get to eat), myself a 40 of Mickeys and we'd drive around, drinkin', laughin', and he would demonstrate to me that minds are indomitable and that reality is subject to human experience every bit as much as the human experience is subject to reality...I would have to Febreze the seat every time after, I didn't care.
I moved in the girl of my dreams. She was a hardcore alcoholic, however. I miss her sometimes. She took up all of my free time, including my Mike time. Then someone poisoned him and he died. The details are sketchy. Apparently, someone decided my friend had to die. They gave him some bleach and told him it was whiskey. He downed it and died. It was not investigated and no one was punished.
The funeral was small and sparsely populated. It was financed by a donation jar at the convenience store. That was about the time I stood up again and decided life was worth living after all. If I hadn't met Mike, that might not have ever happened.