Clarice (The Act)

Clarice was a genius.

A homeless genius, but genius despite that.

2 AM rolls and hits the streets with the lights and fog to follow her. She dons her headdress and hospital gown over her clothes to play the part of a hopeless AIDs patient.

Through everything she walks and plays the crazy part, asking tourists, people, lawyers, teachers, and people walking along the streets for just two dollars so she can call the person she supposedly misses.

Changing the section every night Clarice sets about her journey through the city of San Francisco, through the hills and mist, running into the people that have seen her before and shout slurs.


Con artists get enemies eventually.


Walking under neon lights and late night birds she walks and collects until the sun raises it’s ugly head.

Close to union square at the Haggerferd hotel she lays her head. 10 bucks a night, 100 a week for a room.


She makes at least 4,000 a week.


Clarice is a genius.


She spends her days watching reruns of Full House and smoking clove cigarettes. She drinks bourbon from the bottle and cries.


The family that left her, no longer returns her calls.


Sleeping in lightless hotel rooms is the chosen solitary life. Making enough to sleep and live.

If you call it living,


Clarice does.


Clarice is a genius.


Even though she made a mistake.

It’s hard to get out of a rut when you dug it yourself.


Clarice dons her headdress to leave the hotel and the doorman laughs. How can you not, at a woman that’s chosen to con people out of money to not do anything.

To not change.

To stay in your own private trench.


She never leaves but she never stays.

1 AM rolls and brings with it the whores and the businessman. Throwing bills to get the girl away from them.

Red heels stomp on her hands as she picks up the money.

She needs it for cigarettes for the room for the booze for the room for the booze for the room for the cigarettes.


“You’re trash”

“Bless you”

She continues into the night that’s never quite dark enough to make her feel as if it’s a nightmare or a dream because she cannot decide.

The sun rises above Sutter street and she returns to her room where the doorman spits at her.


Repeat, rewind, fast forward, happy family, sad family, disappointment.


Drink, smoke, Full House.


12 AM rolls around with anger and depression.


Clarice is a genius and she’s sure of that.  


About the prose: 

I talked to a homeless woman around 3 AM in San Francisco. I was cornered and I felt very bad for her and the story she spun. She ran off before I could inquire more about what she was doing. Then two drunk woman called out her name “Yo Clarice! Give that man his money back!”, they then came and talked to me (there’s another story about this because it was hilarious) about how she’s a swindler and how she actually makes a lot of money and has a job. So I was inspired by that. This is about her or the image I got of her lie.


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