“My mama always told me God was a good person,” says Mark, pulling out the cross around his neck from underneath his shirt. “My name is in the Bible.”
Mark presides over the parking lot at the 7/11 near where I live. He shares his time there with two other homeless gentlemen, one in a wheelchair, and one who spends most of this time up the street at the Carls Jr. When any of the threesome hits pay dirt—meaning $10 or more— they help each other out. “We share a meal,” he says. “If I get some food I give it to them and they do the same. We take care of each other.”
Mark also takes car of the night manager’s car and keeps ne'er-do-wells out of the parking lot. As he proudly notes to me and my friend, the cops don’t bother him. And indeed, as we pull up, two policement are coming out of the 7/11 and don’t question his presence. He keeps an eye out on the night manager’s car and cleans it, as well as makes sure no punks steal anything off the delivery trucks in the night. In exchange the manager and the drivers often give him sandwiches they have just passed their sell-by date but are still good to eat.
He found himself homeless, he tells us, after his ex-girlfriend alleged that he abused her. “She put a spousal abuse charge on me,” he says. “Then she never showed up in court,” so the case was dropped. “I never put my hands on females,” he swears.
Mark seemed bright, well-spoken and very cogent, albeit dressed in pajama pants, but he made it clear he was concerned about the chill that invades Los Angeles every year around this time. He sleeps anywhere he can find in the neighborhood. “I have a blanket,” he says, suggesting that he had an unseen stash somewhere.
Tonight’s $10 goes to Mark. I hope the warm weather remains just a little bit longer for his sake.
Oct. 25: Mark