Daniel

Daniel: I carry a white lighter. If I died today it’d be OK. I think my best years are behind me.

BW: Why is that?

Daniel: I skated for 15 years. I busted my leg for good, a couple of weeks ago. No more tricks for me.

Lynn

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Lynn: I got molested a lot when I was a kid.

BW: A family member?

Lynn: Yeah, my brother.

BW: How old were you?

Lynn: I think I was about 4. He was about 10-12.

BW: Did your parents do anything about it?

Lynn: We lived with my grandparents. I don’t remember them doing anything. I did find out, when I was an adult, and in the hospital for something else, that my grandparents had almost beat me to death, when I was 7. Beat me all over my head.

BW: That has to be hard to deal with. Have you ever talked to anyone?

Lynn: Yeah, I been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

BW: Are those cuts on your arm?

Lynn: Yeah… I do that sometimes.

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Cash

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Cash: How many people can say they got out of jail and did a French Montana video the next day?

BW: That’s pretty crazy. What’s that tattoo say?

Cash: Pray for me

BW: Interesting. Why’d you get that?

Cash: I’ve been in a lot of bad predicaments. Been through a lot of shit. I need somebody else prayers cause mine aren’t working by themselves. I need any type of prayer with me at all times for what I’m doing.

Just like… we were doing the video Saturday, somebody came up to the shoot and was trying to beef with fly or whatever. They got ARs and shit on them trying to shoot French Montana and shit.

It’s just crazy shit that be happenin’. My homeboy died last year. His name is Jerry. It was so wicked cause the dude who killed him was one of the dudes I went to school with. So, I need some extra prayers. Crazy shit happens.

I have meanings for all my tattoos really.

BW: What’s that one say?

Cash: Boss Finesse

BW: What’s it mean?

Cash: Finesse is like, when you don’t want to lie but you talk really smooth which makes it OK to lie. Know what I mean? It’s a way of life. It’s a lifestyle. You know, like the Michael Jackson song, I’m a smooth criminal.

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Ella

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I met Ella in one of the toughest neighborhoods in Atlanta yesterday. 

BW: What was the best day of your life?

Ella: The day my son was born.

BW: How old is he now?

Ella: 12. He lives with my parents cause I’m so fucked up.

—- —- —-

Ella: How long have you been clean?

BW: It’s been 7 years since I’ve had a drink or any of the hard stuff.

Ella: That’s a long time. I can’t imagine… I probably won’t get sober til he’s grown and the damage is done.

BW: You really think you’ll make it that long?

Ella: Wow… I look that rough?

BW: …honestly, It’s not looking good from here. 

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Pinche Santa

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BW: What’s your name? 

Santa: José. No, wait, ha. My name is daddy. I’m your daddy hahahahah! I call you son! You call me papa, HA!
No wait, wait, wait hahaha. My name… my name is pinche Santa. Ha YES! I am Santa. You know Santa? You know…. I have all the little kids around and I give them presents. Everybody love Santa. I am Santa!

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Vivian: Fuckin crackheads *shakes head in disgust*

BW: You don’t smoke crack?

Vivian: I have. Not my drug of choice.

BW: You’re a drinker.

Vivian: Yeah…
I got a boyfriend. He’s a crackhead.

BW: Hard to trust a crackhead. 

Vivian: True… he brings me money sometimes though. 

Beverly

BW: What was the best day of your life?

Beverly: I don’t really know. Can’t remember too many.

BW: Well, what was the worst?

Beverly: …Too many of those to choose from.

BW: I bet one popped into your head first.

Beverly: Yeah… the day my best friend was killed. 

BW: How’d it happen?

Beverly: Baby daddy shot her on the front porch. 

T.J. Thomas, Vietnam

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"I got stabbed in Vietnam. That’s a bayonet wound! They sewed me up on the battle field. He had his bayonet in me and I shot him dead."

T.J. Thomas, Tore Up

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BW: So, what are you doing out here?

TJ: My fiance left me and it broke my heart.

BW: God, I’m sorry. Another man?

TJ: Yeah, my best friend…

BW: That’s hard.

TJ: Man, I thought this one was it. I been married 4 times and I thought she was the one. Here’s a picture of her.
She was older like me. I thought… I don’t know… I’m just tore up.

T.J. Thomas and Elvis

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TJ: I lost everything when Elvis died.

BW: Elvis?

TJ: Yeah, Elvis Presley. I worked as his bodyguard.

BW: Really? That’s pretty cool.

TJ: Yeah, knew him for years. I was one of the pallbearers at his funeral. You can find pictures of it on the internet. I was the shortest one.

BW: No kidding? What’s your name?

TJ: TJ Thomas. I’m kin to BJ Thomas. He was a well known country singer.

BW: So you knew Jerry Lee Lewis too?

TJ: Yeah and Jimmy Swaggart.

BW: NO shit!?! You knew Jimmy Swaggart? He used to be my dad’s favorite preacher!

TJ: Mine too til he got caught with his pants down. Can’t be preachin’ the way he did from the pulpit and actin like that in backseats of cars.

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Ken in Newnan

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I saw Ken walking under the bridge on 85 and Bullsboro in Newnan. 

Ken: Me and my wife are about to get evicted.

BW: The job at K-mart not paying enough?

Ken: I had a problem with my hip and was out of work for a while. Can’t get caught back up.

BW: What happens after you get evicted?

Ken: I’m not sure… I guess we’ll find a way to make it.

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More at The Hidden South

Jaz

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Jaz: I got a thing for older men. I’m talkin to this guy now that’s 50!

BW: How old are you?

Jaz: 28. You know how us girls who didn’t have a daddy are.

BW: Yeah, I’ve known a few.

Jaz: But this guy… I can’t stop thinking about him. Gorgeous cock. Mmmmm. And he’s an addict like me. He likes meth. But he’s got his shit together. 

BW: How’s he got his shit together?

Jaz: You know, he’s got a house. His house isn’t trashed. No ring around the tub… he’s got his shit together.
I called him today, texted him, and nothin. I just need to get over him. It’s bullshit. I don’t need to be hung up on some old man!

BW: If he called right now, you’d be over there in 5.

Jaz: Yeah… *giddy smile

More at The Hidden South

Pamela

"I try to wake up hopeful, that this will be my last day on the street, but it’s hard after so many years."

Nekibra

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I met Nekibra by the Greyhound station in downtown Atlanta.

BW: Tell me a secret.

Nekibra: The secret? Well…

BW: No no, not “the secret”, a secret. Tell me something you’ve never told anyone else.

Nekibra: Hmmmm… I used to have dreams when I was a kid about skeletons laying down and rubbing on me. Like a couple of them at once.

BW: Like sexually?

Nekibra: Not really. I mean they didn’t do anything sexual but it would make me have a wet dream.

BW: No shit? That’s interesting. You think it has something to do with like, the skeletons in your closet bringing you pleasure?

Nekibra: Hmmm… maybe. Never thought about that.
I’ve never even told my mama that shit! Never told anyone! You better not make me look… you know…

BW: Make fun of you?

Nekibra: Yeah…

BW: Nah, that’s not what this is about. I hope to build you up. not tear you down. 

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Rambo

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I was walking down some tracks by our place early this morning and came to a bridge that I’ve been to quite a few times. I started taking some pictures of the graffiti and whatnot and I saw some movement in the shadows at the top of the bridge. I looked up and there was Rambo.

Me: Mornin’

Rambo: Hey, what you taking pictures for?

Me: My name’s Brent and I’m working on a book about people I meet in the South.

Rambo: I’ll be right down. Let me take a piss. Rambo’s got a story to tell you.

Me: Take your time.

Rambo: In 1996 a bullet came through the living room window and killed my mama dead. I found her. It made my mind different.
My aunt died 10 years ago and you’re looking at the last person in my family. I ain’t got nobody. 

Me: That’s tough. How long have you been outdoors?

Rambo: I been in the bat cave about 10 years. That’s 10 years of summers and winters out here. That’s why they call me Rambo, cause I can survive. People ask me. “Rambo, how you make it?” and I say, “with Jesus in your heart, you can survive anything.”

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