top of page

Forgotten Voices: The Ballad of John and Misty


It all started as a cruel joke.

When I was a 12, I went to the mall with my friends. We were standing outside while I was eating a snow cone. I was so focused on this snow cone that I completely forgot my surroundings. My friends suddenly shoved me towards an elderly homeless woman. “Ask her for a date, she’s pretty hot!” They all laughed, and I have to shamefully admit so did I. When I saw the expression on her face, I ceased my laughter. I saw the elderly woman hang her head and stumble away from our little party. She picked up her belongings and wiped tears away from her face with her worn-out sleeves from this beat-up green sweater she was wearing. My friends didn’t seem to notice her reaction, or maybe they didn’t care. They walked away laughing; feeling victorious in their inconsiderate, shallow little world. As she walked away, I couldn’t help but wonder about what she’s been through. The world was cruel, but middle schoolers were crueler, and that I knew. I wanted to stop her and apologize, but the shame rooted me to the ground and rendered me speechless. I will never forget the look on that woman’s face.

More than 13 years later, I still think about her. Every time I drive by a seemingly houseless person, I see her face and feel a deep guilt. I think about pulling over my car, hugging them, telling them everything will be okay, taking them to dinner, buying them new clothes, reconnecting them with family, and miraculously fixing their lives in the span of a day. But I keep driving.

Awake in my bed in the middle of the night recently, I wondered, “Had society wrought my thoughts and judgments to perceive these people who walk the streets as mere shadows of my life? Was it my upbringing? Was this my family’s fault? Was it my friends? Or was this simply my doing?” The answer: I’m not sure. Later that week my roommate invited me to attend a charity event held in the back of one of Galveston’s many churches. The charity event was to give food, clothes, dogma, and other important commodities to the homeless. Because I had been thinking about the lady I made cry earlier that week, I, naturally, as a superstitious God-fearing Catholic, took this as a sign, and agreed that I would go to the event.


The event took place at eight in the morning on a cold, cloudy day. With a bagel in my hand and a motive on my mind, I scouted the crowd to see who I could talk to. The loud gospel music was nauseating, making it easy to understand why some of these people have mentally checked out. A woman with a pink beanie stuck out of the crowd, and I approached her, hoping to not scare her away. I had no idea what she had been through, or what was her past experience with men; I couldn’t blame her if she didn’t trust me. The world was cruel, but men can be crueler, and that I also knew.

When I got within speaking distance, I totally froze and told her I was working as a writer for Culture Clash and asked her if she wanted to do an interview for the magazine. She smiled, shook my hand, and told me her name was Misty. The man next to her was her longtime partner, John. She told me she would love to do an interview. John introduced himself again and shook my hand as well. John and Misty were not the aggressive, incoherent homeless people my ignorant anxiety had fearfully expected. Rather, they were both articulate, lucid, and, most importantly, were kind. I asked them if I could interview them the next week, and they said yes.


The next morning, I arrived at the weekly charity event where the homeless congregated. The preacher was going on about his usual ceremony while the homeless gathered early in line for food and clothes. I saw Misty and John. The closest analogy I can describe my sensation is the way that one feels before riding a rollercoaster. I said hello, and asked if they were still willing to do the interview. My anxiety was going through the roof, curious if I was the only one with some inner troubles, I had asked John and Misty how they were doing mentally. They told me they were hanging on by a thread.

John told me he had PTSD, depression, schizophrenia, and BPD, and was prone to snaps. Misty told me she was depressed and had multiple personality disorder. She said one of her personalities was a young girl named Star. Misty called Star one of the nicest and sweetest people I could meet. With this being revealed I said whatever anybody would say, I said it was cold and asked if they wanted to go somewhere to eat. We all agreed on Whataburger.


As we started to walk towards, what I thought was, Whataburger; John and Misty looked around and asked where my car was. It was at that moment when it seemed time ceased moving, and all of Galveston’s 50,596 residents came to a standstill to hear my answer. I’d like to take a minute to explain my brief hesitation having John and Misty in my car had nothing to do with their mental state, or them being homeless. I’ve had plenty of “homefull” people who I absolutely loathed having in my car, whether it be my girlfriend’s shrilling-drunk friends singing off-key slurred renditions of Shania Twain’s “Man! I Feel Like a Woman”, or a sick roommate who showed me a firsthand example of what urinary incontinence was; I simply was uncomfortable with people in my car.

With this going through my head, I felt the need to answer. I said yes, and showed them where I parked my car. I pulled up my car and they got in. Misty sat in the front passenger seat and John in the rear passenger. We had a brief conversation about how I was maybe the second guy to ever let them in a car. John clarified he had a knife in his bag. Before I could freak out, I rationalized with my anxiety that if I were homeless, and I had to be on the road with so few people to trust, I too would have a knife or some other type of protection in my bag. So, I thanked him for his transparency and we pulled into Whataburger. John and Misty ordered two Mushroom Swiss burgers. I bought their meals and let them get settled before the interview.


Before I continue with the interview, I should state that I am aware that our self-proclaimed highbrow readers will consider thes