Chemical Kris and the ‘homeless count’ 

Great to be a leaseholder at age 62. Especially if one eases into a humble bright space in their place of birth – Foggy Bottom – two blocks from the warm brick of Columbia Hospital (my natal cradle) – one block and a half from St. Paul’s K street, where my beloved mom and dad’s remains are interred. 

More than that, St. Mary’s Court had old acquaintances I’d made around the `Hood since returning from my Broadway adventures to the north. Chris C., a guitar playing carpenter, a witty perpetual leprechaun; Wild Billy, a chef with a paralyzed hand, yet still able to whip up a smokin’ souffle; Lord Rick, who since immortalized most of DC’s most gorgeous models in his giant glossy photo-prints. 

And then there was Sergei. Serge Tolstoy, the bona fide great-grandson of the lordly Russian author of “War and Peace”, “Anna Karenina.” 

A 25-year resident of my dear community, Sergei, who enjoyed the moniker ”Homeless Count,” which accompanied one of countless magazine pieces, covered by his cordial smile – topped by a fluffy cossack hat of rabbit fur. 

He greeted me that first week in the lobby with a cordial “Aaah…I remember you from Bowie Race Track…you usually lost.” 

I retorted, “Yes, but I rode equestrian in a prep school. Must have developed a liking for the ponies at that time!” 

Serge snorted, adjusted his neck scarf, and beckoned toward the dining area. “Come on then, boy – let me show you your place at the table.” The ‘Count’ was never without silk paisley ascot, and/or matching foulard, even when it graced a worn navy windbreaker. 

“Chemical Kris, aah” Serge would sigh as I demonstrated how to leach precious orange juice from the forbidden cafeteria glass into a surreptitious server bottle. “You‘re a good thief! Just like me,” he chuckled 

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