Gold Beach Thanksgiving (Part 7)

“Nice morning,” said a voice behind the Reverend. He reeled around and beheld a man in his 50s wearing mismatched clothes and tennis shoes. He was holding a paper cup presumably full of coffee because its contents were steaming.

“Yes it is,” said the Reverend. “Looks like it was quite the celebration here last night. I could hear some of it on the beach.”

“Yeah we had a good time. You staying there?”

“Yeah, for a few days anyway. I don’t know for sure. I’m on my own.”

“Happy Thanksgiving!”

“You too.”

The man introduced himself as Max and said he lived in a tent on a sliver of forested property owned by the Port of Gold Beach. He pointed toward it. A couple other guys lived there, too. Max had lived there for a year, the other guys longer. The cops generally left them alone if they didn’t leave garbage around, which they didn’t.

Max took a sip of coffee and stared at the ocean. The Reverend was curious how these men had become homeless and ended up camping near the ocean in Gold Beach, but he held back his curiosity, which in these encounters one should not because that is the only way we can learn the stories of homelessness and survival.

“You down to the Coast for Thanksgiving?” said Max

“Not really. I just got a divorce and really have nothing left,” said the Reverend.

“You got the Pacific right in front of you! Could be worse.”

“Yes, it could.”

“What are you doing for Thanksgiving dinner?”

“Probably a TV dinner in the room and football.”

“Fuck that and fuck football! Come join us down here at the forts if it doesn’t rain or back at the tents if it does. We got a few canopies set up.”

The Reverend didn’t answer right away. He was considering the invitation. Such a unique offer might not come along in two lifetimes.

“I’m going to make my garbage-can barbecue turkey right here on the beach,” said Max.

“Your what?” said the Reverend.

“I dig a hole, start a fire at the bottom, let it burn into coals. I get a huge turkey, toothpick about 50 small strips of bacon to it, stuff potatoes and vegetables inside, then place the turkey inside a small metal garbage can, put the lid on, and then it goes down into the hole. I shovel coals on the lid, then walk away and come back in a few hours. It doesn’t last that long when it’s ready, I can tell you that. People smell it cooking for miles around. I share it with the camp. I’ve made it for years since I’ve lived outdoors.”

There was no way the Reverend was missing that. Fuck football indeed!

“What should I bring?” he said.

“Whatever you want. We’ll probably have ten or so people.”

“What time?”

“I’ll probably start the coals around noon. Takes a couple of hours.”

“Okay, I’ll be there. My name’s Dave, by the way, Reverend Dave.”

“Nice to meet you Dave. You really a reverend?”

“Not anymore.”

What a relief it was to announce that.