The street was the same as I remembered it. And the birds swooped as if to herald my return. So it was true, I hadn’t dreamed it. For a moment I stood and took in the beautiful cacophony of noise that I’d never fully appreciated before in all its ugly glory. The sun came out to shine on cue and its warmth informed me that I had now entered a safety zone for lost boys.

How can you know a place so well and yet feel that you are seeing it for the first time? If this is a dream and I awaken now I will be angry all day. Maybe all days.

I continue moving on further into it until I reach the gate no one ever closes, and the narrow cement path  leading to the apartment block steps I once knew so well I could climb them in the dark, and under the influence of too much life. This time there seems to be a lesson learnt in each step and greater effort needed to conceal the weariness of the outsider.

Halfway up I enter the glow from the first storey window that conspires to shine God-like behind the statue of Buddha as if even the universe is welcoming my return.

More steps and more weary remembrances of lessons learned and I am at the front door, knocking in a drum pattern of whimsy and familiarity.

After an eternity of seconds the door is opened and I see your smiling face as I remembered it from a long ago carefree time. Bright, loving and kind. I can now die in my footsteps and not be lost to wander and wonder.

I enter and am surrounded by the comfort of the greatest books and music ever written. Each word and note a friend of mine. And I sit at the empty table. Alone no more. Everything and nothing has changed as I take my place amongst it.

You ask me how I am. But there are no words to convey the miracle of ordained destiny.

For in that sheltered moment, I am home.


(C) Frank Howson 2017






I was walking down Sunset Boulevard when a homeless man sitting outside Taco Bell asked me how I was. I replied that I was good and asked him how he was. He stood and shook my hand with such force that it almost loosened the fillings in my teeth, and gave me a beaming friendly smile as if he was welcoming home a lost relative. He told me Congress had the money they wanted and that the bills could now be passed. I asked him if that was…good? I hadn’t read the day’s papers. He said it was really good and that I was now going to be looked after and not to worry. I thought when he said “us” he was referring to all Americans. But no, he was being literal. He meant me. He said as soon as he got back to Congress he was going to have them allocate $10 million to me and my “wife,” and that the money would be delivered to me in a stretch limo. He slapped me on the back and shook my hand again and told me that I would be looked after in my old age now. He’d been worried about me. And that I shouldn’t tell Congress I’d seen him as he was playing hooky for a few days. I said “My lips are sealed”. He gave me a conspiratorial wink and a smile, then waved me farewell.  He went back to sitting in front of Taco Bell and I went on to the nearest ATM machine to get some money to buy my dear new demented friend a meal. But when I returned he was gone. I thought about how in the midst of his madness he seemed so concerned about a stranger’s welfare. Perhaps I’d been the only person to have stopped and acknowledged him all day. Then I wondered whether it took insanity for us to reach this selfless point. A few blocks away I stopped, placed my hand upon the stone cold wall of a building to steady myself, hung my head and sobbed like a child.


 (c) Frank Howson 2013