A mountain of shoes reaches nearly to the ceiling. In another corner a mountain of t-shirts beside a mountain of sweaters. Mountains of pants, suits and underwear rise up one floor above. Tectonic fashion plates colliding. These new mountains loom above where the men sleep...
Above the men sleeping at the doomed Fort Point ("the Fort") rise the mountains of clothes. A couple of live-in staff workers tear open trash bags of donated cast-offs, toss them into the appropriate mountain, using shovels, rakes, mostly their hands. Another couple of guys are in charge of sizing the shoes and pants, marking the size on a piece of masking tape. A job with no end, for the mountains before them grow faster than they can measure.
Finally it's decided that some of these clothes should be sold to the Rag Man, sold by the pound, the money used to buy new socks and underwear. Never enough socks and underwear. The Rag Man sorts through the clothes, quickly — anything usable will be put in his buck-a-pound bin, the rest will either be shredded for mattress stuffing or donated to Third World countries as a tax write-off.
My father will end up sleeping at Fort Point even after he's unbarred from Pine Street. Six months outside have filled him with bitterness. Or brought to the surface the bitterness he always carried, and this bitterness is directed toward Pine Street. The months he sleeps at Fort Point I will not see much of him. Within six months he will be barred from there as well, for bringing a bottle of vodka up to his bed one night, after months of going downhill. It's February again, and he is Johnny Bench.