LATEST UPDATE ON MAY 12th, 2011
Scroll down to see it if you’ve already seen the rest of this part.
Where to start?
Well, all things begin at the beginning, so let’s kick off there.
It seems my real beginning was initiated by the most tragic event of my life, a death @ 1:54 p.m., Saturday, 17 JAN 04, in Escondido, CA. I lost my Irish Wolfhound, Movuggah, the best friend I’ve ever known. The 46th dog in my life, he surpassed the others like Secretariat in the ’73 Belmont stakes, which he won by 31 lengths. I still, after all these years, can’t explain how much my Boy meant to me.
I can say this. I begged God for a trade. I have six kids: three stepchildren, two adopted children, one procreated child, a son. I pleaded with Him to take all six and give me back Movuggah. Fortunately for Stephanie, Stuart, Tyler, Jeff, Jennifer and Stephanie, God wouldn’t deal. No one realized how hard it hit me, including me, until it was too late. My doctor had me on depression meds for a year. I couldn’t focus. Couldn’t stop crying the first 90 days. Couldn’t work my business as I had for 34 years, making a comfortable income.
With things caving in on me, I bought a house in Oceanside and moved. It was about then a series of impossibilities meant for a B-movie, things we all know don’t happen in “real life”, happened to me. Six in a row, until I simply gave up. Couldn’t face it anymore. Had no energy left to fight. For the first time in my life, I quit “… almost.
I ran completely out of money. Dead broke. Not enough left for food. The phones were shut off. The heat & electricity were scheduled for termination. TV was gone, my internet connection, as well. I no longer had anyone “on my side”, I discovered. Lawyers pled cases, judges rapped gavels, and brown shirts took away my house.
Loading what I could in my car, I wiped the tears from my eyes, fired up the engine, and proceeded down a long, dark, gloomy tunnel into a squalid place called Homelessness. It’s really not anyplace you’d want to live. You’re required to surrender your dignity at the city limits, along with your pride and any vestige of self-worth you may still have in your possession. Any feeling of value as a human being gets tossed on the pile as well. You don’t even have time to say good-bye.
This story won’t include the day-to-day details of being homeless. As I move on writing posts on the blog you’ll hear plenty enough. To cover a boring life over a span of 54 months here in my story would severely test my talents as a writer (and I possess a wealth of such talent), not to mention your patience as a reader. Instead, I’ll share with you what I gained. Things I have now, and even more things coming my way. In transit, if you will.
Fortunately, I picked up a friend to ride with me as soon as I became homeless. He’s a retired Jewish carpenter. I call him JC. Nice young fella, 33 years old, bearded but neat and clean, with more ability than I can hope to describe.
JC, my Jewish carpenter friend.
He was pretty quiet at first, but in the sixth month He got me a book. Funny name: the Bible. In the 46 months to follow I read that book eight times. This last run through I’ve been editing. Not the content, but the horrors of the way it was translated and the “too many words” cluttering it.
Frequently, I’ve wondered if the translator might’ve been Robert Waller, the worst writer I’ve ever encountered. He was bad enough to mutilate a good story and make it into a book called Bridges of Madison County, a story I tried twice to read and couldn’t make myself finish. Still, even as poorly worded as my bible was/is, the stories and information inside it made their way into my mind and heart.
I learned to pray. Honestly and openly. My Father sent a fire-breathing dragon after me in the person of a woman named Rita Chappell, from Kentucky. She’d been dogging my trail well in advance of my catastrophes, circa 1998, and never backed off until I was well on my way to cured. All by telephone and e-mail. We’ve never met in person. Some friends don’t need that to cement a bond. She helped me through a few additional catastrophic events, mostly with money, but often with advice. Oh, and the occasional ass-chewing; whenever she felt I needed one.
It’s been suggested I include a description of these 54 months. Do something to help you, the reader, understand what it was like. What happened. How it felt.
As I see it, the description would take about 54 months to write. After the 2nd or 3rd paragraph it’d be as boring as a visit to Grandma’s house by your age 16. Most of those days, an estimated 1,503 of what can only be called 24-hour boredom sessions, simply aren’t worth talking about. Perhaps 10% of ‘em, maybe 150 days, were spent in sheer terror!
Days when my car broke down and I had no idea who’d be willing to help. Donate money for repairs. Get me to a decent mechanic who could fix it. Times when “park politics” had me dreading the park rangers would evict me from the county park where I spent around 22 of every 24 hours, five days per week.
Most days were spent reading my newspaper, or books, trying to stay out of everyone’s way. Being humiliated as people I’d never seen walked by staring at me like an exhibit in a zoo. Managing dollars so skimpy they made the decision if I ate from Mickey D’s dollar menu or actually ordered something worthwhile.
Days I spent working hard to avoid being a recognized member of the homeless community.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve discovered I’ll always be “a homeless man”, in part. In a piece of my heart. The “always” taking in every day where there’s anyone else still homeless. Until every damned one of ‘em is off the streets, I’ll still be a little bit homeless.
Still, I refused to “join up”. Wouldn’t become “one of ‘em” because, to do so would be admitting to myself and everyone else there was no hope. No can do. Hope is what makes us different than the animals. The other animals. The ones who have no soul.
If I accepted I was in it for good, there’d be no comin’ back, then none of us had a chance. Damn it, someone had to get out. Make it. Become free.
Sort of like a POW in a prison camp. Never trusting the guards. Never accepting doom, never believing he’d spend his last days in a POW camp and die that way. That ain’t me, boys and girls. It just ain’t me.
Instead, I’m the kinda guy who, when he sees the chance for escape, runs like hell for that prison fence. Scrambles up it to go over and find freedom … but makes one final, last-ditch effort. I’m the kind of guy who, just before I scramble over the top of the barbed wire, will look down once. Stretch out my hand. Make an offer.
“You want out?” I’m forced to ask, my hand extended. “Then c’mon! Let’s haul ass!”
At that point, the other prisoner must make a decision. It’s the moment of truth. Time to s**t or get off the pot! Take my hand and come with me, or stay where you are and die. As a failure. As a loser. As an also-ran in life.
So, I’m now extending offers. Finding ways to help “other prisoners” manage to “get over the wall”.
Who knows? If you like what you find in these pages, if you find yourself motivated to get involved, maybe you’ll help me extend a hand to some of the other POWs. I sure hope so. I could use some assistance.
You see, there are so damned many of us. So damned many.
So, back to telling you My Story.
Slowly but surely, things began to change. Improve. Come my way. Little things at first, then bigger, and bigger, and bigger yet. Last year, 14 OCT 08, I received a phone call from what I mistakenly thought was a former client. He wasn’t “former” at all. He knew how good I was at my business and assigned me a job, 100% commissionable. The work I’ve done for him will be finished by, or before, the end of May, 2009. This month. It’ll pay me enough money to live at least a year, maybe two, even with no other income.
UPDATE: Early May, 2009
The first offer came in yesterday, which I advised my client to reject. If I’d told him to accept it, he would’ve. My cut? $30,000, a princely sum to someone living on SSI, totally disabled by government terms. An income of $954 per month, which precludes Caribbean cruises and a host of other enjoyments. No, I’ll hold out and maneuver the bidders until I get their sights set high enough to net me $75,000 and $400,000+ for my client.
After all, he selected me, gave me 100% authority with no competition, because he felt, “Billy, you’re the best, and I know you are.”
He’s correct. I’m a professional. A good one.
He’s also 73 years old, the only person to call me “Billy” and survive it since my age six.
There’s more. My writing career, in various forms, germinated in the late 60s, poetry at the start. Published a few times as the poet Guillaume, I dabbled with non-fiction over the years, mostly for industry magazines and newsletters. Beginning 3 JAN 91, I spent seven days per week, 10-14 hours per day, learning to write fiction. I resumed my business in 1996 and wrote part-time, honing my skills, learning, developing.
When my world crashed in on me in January, 2005, everything beyond surviving went on hold.
With that phone call in October, 2008, life reopened itself. Inspired by a Source I won’t name at the moment, equipped with a new laptop, I prepared and wrote yet another novel. My 27th, actually. It’s called The Shimmering Image, with God as a co-protagonist, the other a man remarkably like me, co-starring an Irish Wolfhound. Still better, I discovered a ROM with most of my earlier work. Yet better, a geeky friend dismantled my old computers and salvaged all the rest. The writing of 18+ years, almost good enough to sell as it was.
So, I began editing. Fixing. Spicing and spoofing. At the moment I have twenty novels I can submit to the literary agent He’s going to supply. To my everlasting appreciation and joy, when the money comes in to get me paroled from the jail cell in Hell I’ve occupied the last 54+ months, I won’t be forced to resume my old career. I’ll be able to spend my days writing, my most enjoyable hours ever, and have yet another Irish Wolfhound as my companion.
Perhaps, if the blessings fall as I’ve prayed they will, it won’t be just me and my dog, but we’ll have company. One of the things ya never do is ya never know.
UPDATE: Around May 20th, 2009
It appears I have an agent. Should wrap that part up by or before the 1st of June. My web site, www.billcady.com, lists the 32 manuscripts I have available in one form or another. When those sell, it’ll be for a bit more than a few hundred bucks. If you’d like to read any of ‘em now “… while they’re still free … go to my site and request one. I suggest you start with The Shimmering Image, my latest. I’d love to hear your opinion.
Regarding the offer I turned down: we were successful in getting the higher offer. Again, by or before the first, I’ll have a home, (at least, I’ll have the money to afford one), and will take my first steps to becoming a human being again.
UPDATE 29 MAY 09:
AS of 3:30 p.m. today I’m no longer homeless. Fifty-four months and twelve days, but who’s counting? I closed the deal, received enough money to be set free, and had a little parade with my arm out the window of my car, holding a fluttering American flag.
I signed and returned the contract to my agent, so I’m now waiting to hear how much money I’ll end up with after selling all my stories. They’ll become novels AND, in many cases, movies. God is being very good to me.
UPDATE 4 JUN 09:
I’m driving a Chrysler convertible, have a two-bedroom condo three miles from the ocean, and will begin suffering some serious dental repair this afternoon, with a bon voyage to the few remaining teeth. My dentist can’t clone ‘em so he’ll put in what I was always taught to call “store-boughts”. A trip to my former/again current stylist will get my hair looking like I’m not ending a two-year trek through the Ozarks. People will no longer feel they need to call me “Bubba”. Probably won’t keep asking if I married my cousin because my sister was spoken for. ; )
For months I told people I was gonna get my “Human Being Badge” back. They called yesterday. It’ll be ready in three weeks; a seven point gold badge that says BILL CADY on the top and HUMAN BEING on the bottom.
Correcting a few misimpressions I formed as people were deserting me in droves when I first became homeless, a surprising number of friends have stepped to the plate. After I initially made a request of my e-mail list for “anything extra” because I had an empty building to live in, the flood gates burst open. I’m getting visits from USPS, FedEx, UPS and even some personal visits with gifts. Four TVs, 57″, 29″, 27″ & a 15″ portable. Two sofas, a leather two-seater and a “marginally used” curved three-sofa assembly. It has a hide-a-bed on one end, with two reclining seats separated by a console on the other. With these two items, and the 57″ TV, my living room is about filled.
Towels, sheets, pillows, pillow cases, blankets, comforters, pots, pans, kitchen utensils galore, glasses, silverware, plates, a coffee maker, and a huge box of clothing arrived this week. Between these gifts, a few used item purchases, and things received free from a group called “Freecycle”, I’ve also accumulated a couple small desks and a beginner’s supply of office equipment. Yesterday I acquired a new HP Officejet 8500 Wireless printer/copier, scanner/fax. This thing does everything! It even makes lasagna, if you can find the password … I think.
Two days ago I finalized the project that spawned all these dreams. All the dust from that part must be settled by the end of the month. It’s a condition of the offer, which my client instructed me to accept. The freedom I’ve craved for years is here, washing over me, and things continue getting better by the day. I received throw pillows for my sofas, a desperately needed bath mat, and will no longer wash my towels once per year. My “new” convertible runs great, getting over 18 mpg without a single problem.
I’m about halfway through sorting and putting away the contents of an estimated fifteen large trash bags. They contained everything crammed into my car during the 54+ months I lived in it. I’m finding what might be called a “shitload” of things I’d forgotten were in my car, including a file folder on that very car. Owner’s manual, service records, the whole nine yards.
Assuming I don’t go berserk with my newfound assets, I’ll have enough to live 2-3 years without any other source of income. My dentist, Kent Davis, has savaged my mouth twice each week, pulling teeth like a madman. In another week to ten days I’ll get my upper plate, meaning I’ll be able to smile without keeping my lips compressed. The lower set will be mine in three weeks, give or take. Kent also took pity on me and my economic woes. He adjusted the bill three times. It now stands at $3,655 altogether, a savings from the $5,125 initial plan. A few people commented his initial rates seemed pretty good, so an additional 29% discount doesn’t make me feel bad.
I’ll spend the first half of tomorrow driving a U-Haul truck to San Juan Capistrano, 30 minutes north of Oceanside, to pick up a load of furniture and household goods. It’s been in storage. The owner, a casual friend who donated some free legal advice during my contentious 1998-99 divorce, is tired of paying $3,000 in yearly storage. I’ll use her things until she needs them again, if she does ever need them again.
My mouth is incredibly sore from all this dental work. Consequently, I’m not able to eat much. That leaves me feeling weak, worsened by my diabetes and the times dieting makes my blood sugar crash. Still, into each life, a little rain must fall, right? I think I’ll take advantage of this opportunity to shut my big mouth and ride it out.
After all, except for my ex, nothing’s perfect. ; )
Oh, and my friend, Alex, also isn’t idle. He’s about to make significant changes in my web page, something I feel will boost my burgeoning career as a writer. Even nicer, since he has an extra Jawbone Bluetooth ear piece, he’s giving it to me so I can have use of my cell without a mile of loose cord flapping all around.
Now’s the time to get back to my stories, after I collect some badly needed furniture. Seems it’s arrival time, boys and girls, and Bill is set to arrive.
UPDATE ON DECEMBER 4th, 2009
The guy who funded the miracle bringing about my “parole” from homelessness inexplicably stopped paying the money he owes me in July. No reason given and he won’t respond to my contact attempts. In any other time of my life I’d've called that a “Doomsday event”, but not now.
Don’t know what it will be, but I do know my Father has something up His sleeve to get me out of this spot.
My plans were actually ahead of schedule insofar as a return to “being a human” again, and this is a minor setback, but I have faith it’ll all come out best in the end.
Watch this space to learn what happens next.
UPDATE: September 2010 … Click here
UPDATE: May 12th, 2011 … “The Dave Report” where I learned I have lung cancer
I’m just sayin’.