12- A Homunculus In A Homeless Shelter

Several weeks ago I was doing some volunteer work at the Fort Washington’s Men Center. A man entered hoping to find solace from the rain. A gray hoodie, dark black jeans, torn up white Adidas sneakers, and a face covered in ash, a limp left arm. At first I simply thought nothing of him, but I kept up with him, followed him and assisted him during his time in the shelter over these laster weeks. These are the observations I made, in order.

  1. When I initially approached him to offer him a hot blanket, I touched his right arm. It was solid, not like muscle but like rock. He accepted the blanket.

  2. Discovered that the man’s name was Gregory while playing checkers with him.

  3. Wanted to be a NASCAR driver. Saw a race on television in a Best Buy once and was immediately infatuated with the idea of it, the speed, the simplicity.

  4. Says he remembers a mother, but everything in his life is such a haze. His father, he claims, was literally a shadow. A dark spot on the walls that followed him everywhere.

  5. Used to breed roaches in Brooklyn. **Update: “Used to” meaning a year ago from the time I spoke to him.

  6. Gregory removed his hood during one of our meetings. His face still ash covered, but made a disturbing discovery. His head is a bowling ball. His face is sewn together, burned at the seems, and attached to the ball. His hair is the same texture, possible the same material, as a Chia pet.

  7. Gregory informed me that he remembers awaking in a basement in Brooklyn some eight years ago. Claims it is his first memory.

  8. Asked about his organs, claims that he does have them. Feels heart beating. Excretes waste. Breathes.

  9. Right arm made of pure concrete.

  10. Left arm made entirely of 15 fused water bottles. Aquafina brand.

  11. Time at the Men Center came to end, offered lodging at the lab. He accepted.

  12. Made space for him in one of the empty storage rooms. Gave new jacket.

  13. Body made entirely out of two folded closet doors and a series of pipes connecting arms and legs.

  14. Right leg made out of out two rhinoceros horns.

  15. Left leg made out of fused mason jars, each jar full of preserving fluid and a deceased birds.

  16. Kicked out of home by creator.

  17. Lived under bridges and moved from shelter to shelter in hiding. Rain damages the connecting joints, Gregory says. Direct contact with water on “skin” dangerous.

  18. Gregory has taken up a fascination with helping me in the lab. Did not inform him that no more chemistry occurring in the lab, no chemicals, not recently. Still, showed Gregory the website and the board kept in the back of strange occurrences. Expressed happiness. Believes that if these other strange things are out there that he may not be alone.

  19. Helping recently with moving things around the lab. In exchange, allows me to do small experiments on him, provide lodging in the storage room.

  20. Joints and connective tissue appear to be hinges, bolts, and tile glue.

  21. Pokes a few small holes in water bottles. Concrete thoroughly tested, still concrete. Didn’t feel anything.

  22. Need to see how Gregory ticks. Purchased some food coloring.

  23. Gregory excited to assist me with some chemical work.

  24. Accidentally spilled the colored water on Gregory, insisted he needed to be decontaminated. Very frightened, went along. Led into decontamination room.

  25. Turned shower on from outside. Locked and blocked glass door.

  26. Screamed, repeatedly punched glass door, did shatter it.

  27. Crawled through hole he made.

  28. Attempted to attack me, fell apart before he could reach me.

  29. Broke open torso and head with hammer.

  30. Brain = Light bulb full of keys inside hollowed bowling ball.

  31. Lungs = the legs of a stuffed animal full of ground beef.

  32. Heart = Potato battery.

  33. Human nervous system strung throughout body.

  34. Stomach = wax-surrounded empty detergent bottle.

  35. Face = human skin, eyes of cat -turned sideways, human nose, human lips.

  36. Vocal Chords = unfound, possibly melted away.

  37. Placed all items into medium UHaul cardboard box. Placed into dumpster.

-H.

13- A Letter From The Editor

11- A Tea Bag In The Bird's Mouth