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Apple / Mark Rogers

Illustration by Mark Rogers

It was around 10:00 pm. I was in my home office in Riverside watching a movie on my computer. All of a sudden Sophy came in and said, “Someone’s knocking on the door—I can’t get it—I’m half undressed.”

I figured it was our neighbor Sun bringing over one of her Korean dishes. I opened the door and a middle-aged homeless woman stood on the step.

“First of all, I don’t have a black eye,” she said. “This is not because of a black eye.”

I looked at her right eye and saw that it was watering. In general, she looked roughed up—almost in shock. She had that look a lot of homeless people have, of being burrowed down deep inside their clothes. As she spoke, she created a weird persona, half angry and half apologetic.

“I was staying in the house up the street, the one listed for a short sale. I have only been homeless one day. I am not a problem. They came and put me out on the street—took all my things onto the street. I have nowhere to go.”

I stepped outside and closed the door behind me. I think my subconscious was making the decision for me, that she wasn’t coming in the house.

She told me more of her jumbled story—something about Newport Beach, a famous doctor—it wasn’t making any sense.

I told her, “This isn’t my house—I’m a renter. Also, I have a wife to protect, so I can’t have you staying here.”

“Oh, of course, I understand.”

Earlier that day, I was remembering an incident at the Mexican border in which I allowed Sophy to be put at risk. I’d told myself never again and it was easy for me to reject having a potentially unbalanced person sleep in our apartment. I had no proof she wouldn’t wake up delusional and begin stalking us with a butcher knife.

The night was cool and damp. I asked, “Do you have any place to go?”

“No. I have a sleeping bag. Let me ask you a question. Do you know Hector Vasquez?”

“No, I don’t. This is what I can do. There’s a covered area out back, with a couch. You can stay there for one night.”

I took her around to the carport, where we were storing a sofa that was too big to get inside the apartment. “You can sleep here. I’ll be back in a minute.”

I went back inside and told Sophy what was up. Her first impulse was to allow the woman to sleep inside. I told her, “No—there’s no way of knowing how rational she is, for all we know she could open the door and let other people in.”

I made the homeless woman a mug of chamomile tea, a peanut butter & jelly sandwich and grabbed an apple out of the fridge.

By the time I got back outside, she was already in her sleeping bag. When I showed her the food, she looked at me like she didn’t know me. Then it all came back to her and she thanked me.

The apple rolled off the plate across the concrete and she said, “Apples will do that.”

She asked me if she could leave her things with me tomorrow while she went to the bank.

Agreeing would have been the first step to being entwined with this woman and I told her, “No, you can’t leave your stuff here.”

“But if I bring it to the bank they’ll steal it."

“No, you have to take everything with you in the morning.”

She looked pissed as I said goodnight and walked back in the house.

Throughout the night, Sophy and I felt strange, sleeping in our warm marriage bed while a homeless woman slept outside our bedroom window.

We woke in the morning to the woman gathering her things.

I could see her form through the cracked Venetian blinds as she sputtered, “Fuck them… Fuck them.”

- from the memoir, Uppercut


MARK ROGERS is a writer and artist whose literary heroes include Charles Bukowski, Willy Vlautin, and Charles Portis. Rogers lives in Baja California, Mexico with his Sinaloa-born wife, Sofia. His award-winning travel journalism has brought him to 56 countries. His crime novels have been published in the U.S. and UK. Uppercut, his memoir of moving to Mexico, is published by Cowboy Jamboree Press. NeoText publishes his Tijuana Novels series and Gray Hunter series. You can reach him at


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