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.
TJ: I lost everything when Elvis died.
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.
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.
More at The Hidden South
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
"I try to wake up hopeful, that this will be my last day on the street, but it’s hard after so many years."
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?
BW: Nah, that’s not what this is about. I hope to build you up. not tear you down.
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.
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.”
Sharon: You a cop?
Me: No, are you?
Sharon: No… Can you give me a ride to the store?
Me: Sure, Hop in.
Sharon: So, what you lookin for baby.
Me: I’m a photographer and I take pictures of people I meet and tell their stories.
Sharon: Really? I got a story for you. Where you gonna put it?
Me: On my website and I’m working on a book.
My dad raped me from the time I was 9 til I was 13, almost every day.
Me: I’m sorry.
Sharon: I never had a first boyfriend or a first kiss or anything like that. It was always dad. Everything I learned about sex, I learned from him. But I never sucked him. Only sex… I never told anybody that…
Me: Do you think you’ll ever forgive him?
Sharon: Hell no, he did it to my sisters too. One of my sisters has a baby by him. I mean, I’ll forgive him the way Jesus does. He’s sicker than me but I’ll never forgive him for what he did. Made me have mental problems too.
Sharon: Yeah, how you know that?
Me: I’ve known people with similar stories. Do you ever talk to a shrink?
Sharon: I’ve talked to plenty. They all the same. Same questions, same answers. I feel like, look mother fucker, read my chart, it’s all right there. You’re a lot easier to talk to than them and you’re cute too *smiles and giggles.
Me: Ha. I’m glad you can talk to me. You know somewhere that’s a little shady that we can take a few pictures?
Sharon: Shady? Like… shady?
Me: *smile not shady like that. The sun is harsh right now. I need shade to get a good picture of you.
Sharon: Oh yeah, I got a spot. Turn left.