Ike is his name-just Ike. The aging Alabaman told CityBeat that 'Ike' is both his last and first name. The monosyllabic, straightforward handle is perfect for a guy who answers mostly with 'yeah' and 'nah' and, when pressed to elaborate, is as clear-cut as a POW on truth serum.
'I'm homeless,' says Ike, pulling his knit hat down over the yellowed whites of his eyes, then cleaning his long fingernails for the remainder of the chat. 'Well, I ain't able to work 'cause I got bad knees, bad back.'
Ike says he was living in Atlanta-'out there jobbing' (working as a roofer)-when he decided to bus it to San Diego five years ago. He came looking for a better job and a better life, but his health problems kept him from getting either. Ike says it wasn't long before the isolation and desperation got to him. For his first few years in San Diego, drugs were his only friends.
'Shit,' sighed Ike, 'name it, I done had it.'
But he's done with all that drug stuff now-Ike's been clean for the last year and a half. He says he's ready for a change, ready to get back on his feet.
'It's a boring situation out here, you know,' he says, shifting his weight on the black trash bag that doubles as the carrier of all his belongings and his favorite lounge chair. 'I couldn't really explain it to you. I just sit about.'
Editor's note: This is the first installment of a new feature. Its intent to put a face and a name to homelessness. It's that simple.