Monday, October 8, 2007

Remember Carl Davis? An update

New Orleans Public Library
October 10, 2007
New Orleans, La.

Dear Family and Friends,

Carl Davis looks skinny. Skinnier than the first time I met him in June, when he told me things I felt wrong to repeat. Davis says its ok to repeat these things.

A man on the ropes isn't much on maintaining an image, I guess.

But, it's a man on the ropes who isn't afraid to give a story, a real oh my god that's whats going on and I'm no shrink but that's some crazy stuff kind of story. That day, Carl Davis told me how Hurricane Katrina had psyched him out. Voices that talk to him everyday. Voices that have told him to kill himself twice since the storm.

The last three months have been better for Davis physical condition. The terribly-sun blistered lips are now more healthy. The damage, I'm sure, will always keep Davis' lips looking a little off.

His head is still in shambles though. "There are two voices," he says. I asked what they look like--if voices had a face. White guys he says. The bad one, the one that tells him to kill himself looks like the devil.

"The good voice is telling me you're alright, Robert," he says.

Knowing that Carl has something else making judgments about me are unsettling sure, but he is a gentle man, whispering when words matter and other people are around him.

Davis weighs 135 pounds. "The voices tell me not to eat," he says. "It's poison," they say.

"The bad voice told me to kill myself the other day."

He's living in an apartment with the help of a homeless shelter in town. They gave him a deposit and first month's rent on a little place off MLK Boulevard.

"I got robbed again," he says. "It was stupid, I bought me a piece of ass."

"I hadn't had no ass in a year."

Asking was shameless and intrusive, but the answer would be a market rate snapshot in America's underworld of desperation--so I wanted to know:

"How much?"

"She had charged me 20 dollars and stole my keys. Her boyfriend came back with a gun."

They took 600 dollars, he says.

After we met in June, I didn't think I'd ever see him again. He's a classic disappearing act, but not in the romantic world traveler way. When he came to see me, we hugged. We walked three blocks and sat in the shade, ate snickers and drank orange juice.

"I'm glad you came in," I said.

"I just heard you were giving away tennis shoes," he said laughing. "I'm an 11 and a half."



To see initial Video and Column about go to the "JUNE" Folder

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