Joe met me and carried me back to his house. He was glad to be home, driving his own vehicle and feeling much better. It was good to see him in such high spirits after witnessing his lengthy excruciating bout with pain during our adventure in Europe. He expressed gratitude, I came to help him and assured me he had plenty of work I could perform for him on his properties. Though there was plenty of work, getting an income was a different matter. I found it almost impossible to land outside jobs without benefit of local references. This forced me to use other sources to supplement my no income. It seemed I would be dipping into savings to finance the beginning of this adventure. Luckily, my expenses were minimal. I had no rent, Joe provided food and not having my vehicle meant I avoided those costs. Also I had no expenses to carry back at my home on Martha’s Vineyard. It seemed I would go forward on a much different scale than I expected.
The next eye opener was getting used to the tough neighborhood where I would be living. Joe explained he had ongoing difficulties keeping his streets clear of hookers and drug dealers. He was not adverse to calling police to run people off his streets. He assumed possesion of streets in his neighborhood and wanted them clean. One night we heard a ruckus outside. As it moved away, shots erupted. Soon sirens emerged and we discovered someone had fallen in a pit near one of Joe’s other properties. The victim was not fatally wounded but the side of Joe’s house was a bloody mess. The tenant living there joined in helping us clean up the disarray while police and EMS crew took care of the shooting victim. Apparently gunfire was commonplace in this neighborhood. A few days later, while mowing the grass in the space where we first heard the commotion, the mower struck something that gave a metallic sound as flung against the house. I went over and found it was a chromed pistol. Luckily it had not fired while hurling around.
To top it all off, Joe appeared to be getting better and not approaching his death
bed. He held to the notion that somehow a cure would be found for his aliment. There was plenty of evidence this would not be the case. Joe was surrounded by a sizeable community of AIDS victims and many had already succumbed. He was on the list of patients who received services. Two well prepared, nutritious, hot meals a day were delivered to him. Joe hardly ate any and offered them to me. When I asked him why he did not eat, his response was, “It is hard to have an appetite when you do not feel good.” Apparently his medications were masking much of his discomfort. As well as he seemed at the time, I reaffirmed my decision to stay with him to help with his incredible journey. It seemed I would simply have to adjust to this bumpy landing.