Star Wars and Junkies | News | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Star Wars and Junkies

I remember going to an old man's house
Over in Homestead.
The old guy was old like the soot left on
The beams of a steel mill with a thousand broken windows.
The old guy sat bent over in a worn red chair
And said, "He took all my money.
I saved for forty-two years
Didn't believe in banks.
Kept the money under the floorboards in my bedroom.
He took every last penny I had
Thirty-two thousand, five hundred and twenty-five dollars
And seventy-five cents.
It used to be forty-five thousand dollars and seventy-five cents I saved,
But he kept borrowing money every day.
I think he takes dope."
I asked, "How did you know how much money?"
The old man said, "I counted it all the time
And I was going to leave it to my daughter when I died."
I asked, "Who knew about your hideout under
The floorboards?"
He said, "Nobody, but he stole my money,"
And he pointed to his daughter's common-law lover who came walking into the room.
"He takes dope."
I looked over at the emaciated junky-looking weasel.
"Did you take the old man's money?"
The weasel said, "He's crazy,
I'd never take his money, I love him."
The old man said, "Talk to him, he stole my money."
I went into the kitchen.
"Show me where the thieves broke into the house."
The weasel walked me to the back door.
"Here's where he broke in."
I looked and the broken glass was on the inside of the kitchen
And of course a red flag goes up.
"This is where the thief broke in to steal the old man's money?"
Weasel said, "Sure looks like it."
I said, "This is how you found the place when you and the old man came home?
Where did you take the old man?"
Weasel said, "I took him to the movies.
We went to see Star Wars Downtown."
I said, "Oh yeah, the old man said you even bought him butter popcorn."
He said, "With extra butter."
"The old man said he hasn't been to the movies since they were first called talkies."
Weasel said, "I want to get him out."
"The old man said you kept getting up
And going in and out of the seats."
Weasel said, "I had a stomach virus and
Had to run to the men's room or I would have pooped my pants.
Can't believe the old man thinks I'd rob him.
I love him and I didn't know he had a stash under the floorboards."
I said, "I never said the money was under the floorboards.
How did you know?"
Weasel said, "The old man talks in his sleep."
"How did you know it was only one thief that broke in the window?"
"It was just a hunch."
I said, "Maybe we should go down to the station,
Talk about hunches and the extra butter on the popcorn."
The old man sat in the chair as we walked towards the door.
"Ask him what he did with my money.
I was going to give it to my daughter.
He's on dope.
I can't eat popcorn, I ain't got no good teeth.
He stole my money."
When we got to the holding cell
I asked the weasel if he had any scars or tattoos.
The weasel rolled up his sleeves and
Showed me the track marks up his arms.
"I love the old man. I'd never hurt him."

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By Mars Johnson