Life, From a Standing Position
It was just after 5:00 P.M., the homeless man found himself standing in the piss stench of a small, dark alley between two South Main Street buildings. One was a soup kitchen and the other was a shelter. There was another homeless man in the alley with his head pushed down and his pants pulled below his knees. It wasn’t the only place for him to defecate, but it was the place he chose.
The homeless man walked into the soup kitchen to find something to warm his stomach. There was the smell of soup and vomit in the air. He chose solely to concentrate on the soup smell. He watched the soup being dispensed from a chow line. As the various homeless people completed the line, some took seats at the tables while others continued to mill about.
The director led a roomful of people to the doorway and waited patiently as he finally got their attention. There was a strain in his voice when he told the group that there was no room at the shelter and that they needed to seek refuge from the cold somewhere else. He suggested a few of the local churches. The homeless man didn’t stand around to argue or gripe he headed out into the cold in search for those local churches. The temperature was going dip into the low teens, and he wanted no part of that.
After being turned away by several churches he stopped directly in front of an odd looking Church. He guessed that the structure was rather old, more then a hundred years. There were signs of weathering and hard use, but the church seemed structurally sound and well maintained.
He didn’t have to knock because a small wiry man in dark clothes stepped out wrapping his arms around himself for warmth.
“What is it my son?” asked the man as he fought back the bite of the cold.
“I seek a place to sleep,” replied the homeless man.
“We are full, but our sister church in Bridgeport has a few more spots,” he replied. “I can give you train fare and directions.”
The homeless man accepted the man’s generosity as he took the train fare and directions down to the South Norwalk train station.
He sat back trying to get comfortable on the old steel chair. There he noticed a young teenage girl crying near a small billboard sign. He stared for a few moments, but he turned away. Her crying sounded cold to his ears so he approached her and asked if there was something he could do to help.
She looked at him and noticed his condition.
“I’m stuck here in Norwalk and I need to get home. I live in Fairfield but I lost my money. If my mom and dad find out that I was out here visiting my boyfriend they’d kill me. I don’t know what to do. My boyfriend has no money, and I’m stuck here. They’re going to kill me!”
The homeless man reached into his dirty pockets and removed all the money that was given to him and handed it to the young teenage girl. “This should get you home.”
She blinked several times at the homeless man. She then took the money and quickly jumped on the next train that pulled in. There was no thank you, but none was needed for the homeless man as he walked away thinking about another way to get warm.
Then it hit him.
He could steal something from a store and get caught. They’ll put him in jail for a night or two, but it would beat the cold. More than any other season, winter held its own special horrors. The homeless man wanted no part of those horrors.
It was a hellacious night to be looking for shelter. He walked into the package store and quickly shuffled over to the expensive wines. There was an attendant with an attitude watching him. He knew that night for the homeless man was bad, but he also knew it was going to get worse.
The homeless man shoved a very expensive bottle of wine into his jacket and turned slowly away.
“Jesus freaking Christ,” said the attendant, as he picked up a baseball bat and walked over to the homeless man.
“I’m sorry,” said the homeless man. “I’ll wait for the police and go quietly.”
“Police?” The attendant took two steps back and swung the bat hitting the homeless man right in the face. “You’re in my house!”
The homeless man tried catching his breath as he fell to the floor. He tried to explain his logic to the attendant but only met a rain of blows from a baseball bat. His entire life just flashed in front of his eyes. For the next fifteen minutes he was thinking about his two best friends he had in high school.
Jenny Camacho, she wanted to tackle the world and be the best actor she could possibly be. She was shot and killed during a drug raid nine years ago.
David Barker, he wanted to join the armed services and protect the country. He did, he died in the middle-east by friendly fire.
The homeless man thought prison would be the end of the line for him. He was wrong. He was done in by an idiot attendant wielding an aluminum softball bat.
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© 2012 Frank Atanacio
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