The Tunnel People

Graffiti that looks like art, amazing!
Graffiti that looks like art, amazing! | Source
Entrance to the tunnels below Las Vegas Blvd. in Las Vegas.
Entrance to the tunnels below Las Vegas Blvd. in Las Vegas. | Source
Two kind women helping a homeless man in New York, handing a meal to him.
Two kind women helping a homeless man in New York, handing a meal to him. | Source

Living In This Tunnel

“I hate living like this, you do know that don’t you?” Rebecca’s eyes were already tearing up as she began to talk to Paul. “How did it ever get this bad?” she wondered aloud. He looked at her with a look of plaintive longing and said “You know I would give anything for us to have our jobs again, and our home… but the way things are these days…. Isn’t everyone just a paycheck or two from being in our shoes?”

And so begins another day “in the tunnel” … beneath the streets of this shining, neon glowing, bustling, full of life, never-sleeping city. “I feel like a dead person,” she went on to say.

“Hey Roberto!” Paul says to him as he walks down the tunnel to claim his piece of wall that hasn’t yet been “graffiti’ed” … “you know you’re a REAL artist, and that you don’t belong in here, hiding your art from the outside world. You could have your work on display in a gallery somewhere!” “Don’t I know it!” exclaimed Roberto, as he furtively puts the cans down and begins to plan out what is soon to become his next “masterpiece”… “I’m calling this one the devil’s eyes, because you know he has to be watching us down here, don’t you?”

Paul went on to say, “We, the tunnel dwellers, those who rarely ever see the light of day… we’ve forgotten the everyday niceties and chatter among those that walk the street above. Those people who are so important they have to be somewhere every second of the day, clutching onto their Starbucks cups, and they have forgotten how to truly live each day as if it were the last, because we know every day we are down here that it can be our last, don’t we?”

“We know that better than anyone, Paul.”

Rebecca felt compelled to continue…“I just don’t want our baby to be born with no home, to parents who are destitute and living beneath the street… I had always hoped that our children would have a better life than we do…” Rebecca said, with that faraway look in her eyes again. “It’s bad enough for adults to live like this, but an innocent baby?”

“Is anyone here?” they hear the voice ask before they are even able to see the flashlight shining. It’s a policeman, and with the kind of luck Becky and Paul have had lately, their first thought is that he is probably coming for them.

They let him know they were there, and he asked “Rebecca? Paul?” “yes…” they replied tentatively. " Can you come with me, please, to the station? I have some information for you". “What now” is all Paul can think of, but they obligingly follow the policeman up the steps to his waiting squad car. All the time, Paul had visions of them being arrested for “vagrancy, trespassing” or some other offense.

Once they arrive at the police station, they all walk into a room and see… him… he looks faintly familiar, but at the same time, he seems like such a stranger. “Rebecca? It’s Michael”… she hadn’t heard that name in years, nearly 30 years to be exact. “Your brother… I know we haven’t seen each other since we were kids…” and his voice trailed off.

“Michael!” she exclaimed! “All these years, they told me you had died.” “Well, they didn’t know it, but it was my step-brother, Casey, that died, hit by a car when he was nine years old,” Michael said, then he went on, “The family I was sent to live with after Mom died treated me as if I were their own son, and for that I will always be grateful. I don’t know how the lawyers found me, but they did. It was you that they couldn’t locate.”

“I hate to be the one to tell you”, he continued, “but our father passed away a couple of weeks ago”… she had a lost, forlorn look on her face, and a tear rolled down her cheek as he went on. “Nobody knew it, but he left behind some bank accounts….. everything is pretty much settled, probated, except for a check that I need to give you…” “Oh Michael!” she exclaimed. “I am so sorry I couldn’t be there for his funeral… Paul and I both lost our jobs, then our home, and we’ve been living in the tunnels under the main street ever since.” “And I see that you two are expecting a little one, soon by the looks of it,” Michael said. “I believe this will be more than enough to help you two get back on your feet, and to help raise …. my soon to be niece or nephew!”

Becky was so excited she could hardly contain herself, “thank you for finding us, Michael… this means the world to us, and knowing that you are still here means even more. And please, whatever we do, don’t let us lose touch with one another ever again”. “We won’t, Becky, we won’t.” They embraced each other, with a promise never to be separated again.


A Fictional Story, Based On Facts ~

This short story is fiction, but is based on actual facts, there really ARE homeless people, an estimated 1,000 or more of them, living beneath the main street here in Las Vegas. The street is called Las Vegas Boulevard and is also known as "the strip." Underneath the hotels with all of their shimmering lights and fancy decorations, lies an underbelly of the City - one filled with darkness, peril, crime, and homeless people existing day to day, just trying to get by.

But it is also a "community" of sorts, one filled with the hopes of very talented artists painting murals on the walls of the tunnels, and the hopes and dreams of those who once had homes to live in. Their hope is that one day they will be able to get out of the tunnel, and live in a real home again.

Awareness Of Homelessness In Las Vegas

Did This Short Story Help To Raise Awareness Of The Plight Of Some Of The Homeless People Of Las Vegas?

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Comments 20 comments

Old Poolman profile image

Old Poolman 5 years ago from Rural Arizona

What a great hub. I had no idea this was going on in Las Vegas. If we are unable to get this economy back on track there will be many more living on the streets, or under the streets. Thanks for sharing.


picklesandrufus profile image

picklesandrufus 5 years ago from Virginia Beach, Va

this kind of situation is all over our country. Homelessness is a terrible tragedy. I work with children in homeless shelters and they are no different than you and I...as you said, most of us are one bad circumstance away from it. Great Hub. I hope it affects your readers to look into the homeless reality in their own areas and find a way to help.


Donna Sundblad profile image

Donna Sundblad 5 years ago from Georgia

Interesting story, and enlightening. I didn't know about the tunnels. I did wonder why the father, daughter and brother were separated for so long...she thought the brother dead, but what about the father? Just curious.


KathyH profile image

KathyH 5 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada Author

You're welcome, Poolman, I found it so interesting when I found out there really ARE people living in these tunnels (by reading a local newspaper article)... it's fascinating to me, and very tragic.


KathyH profile image

KathyH 5 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada Author

Thanks, picklesandrufus, I hope this does affect readers in a positive way... and encourage people to help. I always think of the saying "there but for the grace of God go I". It puts things in perspective for me and encourages me to help others. Thanks for your thoughtful comment! :)


KathyH profile image

KathyH 5 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada Author

Hey Donna! I'm not sure why she wasn't in touch with her father, I kind of left that up for the reader to form their own ideas I guess! :) Could be he didn't like her choice of a husband maybe? Could just be philosophical differences that caused an estrangement? Not sure! :) Good thoughtful question! :)


Donna Sundblad profile image

Donna Sundblad 5 years ago from Georgia

True Kathy. I've known family members who don't talk for decades.


KathyH profile image

KathyH 5 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada Author

Me too, Donna... it surely does happen! :) Thanks for stopping by!


Hillbilly Zen profile image

Hillbilly Zen 5 years ago from Kentucky

Poignant story, Ms. Kathy. You're a natural storyteller, with a very empathetic style. If you're not in a writers group in your area, I encourage you to join one to strengthen your skills. Voted up and beautiful.


KathyH profile image

KathyH 5 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada Author

Thanks for the encouragement, Hillbilly Zen, I will look into it! :) Thank you for the votes as well! :)


Milli Thornton 4 years ago

What a sad and beautiful story. I hope that rescue really happened to Paul and Becky, especially before their baby was born. Thank you for using your writing to bring this reality to light for the rest of us to be aware of.


KathyH profile image

KathyH 4 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada Author

Thanks so much, Milli! So glad you liked this. It was interesting learning all about the people that really DO live in the tunnels beneath the neon lighted "Strip" here in Las Vegas... it really is another world.


lauramaryscott profile image

lauramaryscott 4 years ago from Boise, Idaho

As a child in our neighborhood in a vacant lot near our homes were underground tunnels and an Indian mound. All the other kids played in them but I was always afraid to do anything more than peer down the tunnel from above. One day Bobbie talked me into jumping into the tunnel that was the shallowest opening. I jumped in and then panic set in and he could not pull me out. He ran to get a ladder. That ended my attempts to play in the tunnels. When I saw the title to your story, I thought maybe you had tunnels in your childhood neighborhood too and I was looking forward to reading about them. Your article took me by surprise. I am glad the homeless have found a place to get in out of the weather. We never used to see people begging but now we see them everywhere. When I see someone with a sign asking for help at the supermarket, I usually buy something from the bakery for them and give a little cash. You can tell the ones who are hungry. My daughter also likes to give bottles of drinking water. Thanks for enlightening us with your article.


KathyH profile image

KathyH 4 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada Author

That is so nice of you and your daughter, lauramaryscott! :) Such a wonderful and thoughtful thing to do for homeless people! :) There is quite a big problem here in Las Vegas with homelessness, and these tunnels DO give them shelter from this heat, which is good. It's hard to see them pushing shopping carts with everything they own in them and holding signs in this heat.

We didn't have tunnels when I was a child growing up in Wisconsin, but we DID have a creek across the street from us (it was just beyond the backyards of the people across the street)... we used to play by the creek ALL the time! There were a bunch of rocks in the creek that we used to call "Monkey Island." You reminded me of that! :) Thanks so much for your great comment! :)


lauramaryscott profile image

lauramaryscott 4 years ago from Boise, Idaho

Kathy H, thank you again for sharing. A year or so ago, I sent e-mails to National Geographic and BYU trying to convince them to do an archeological dig in that area but they said they receive too many suggestions from people and they weren't interested in my suggestion. That is why I jumped on your Tunnels article so quickly. I have my friend's favorite Gazpacho recipe and I am thinking about sharing it on HubPages. Stay safe.


KathyH profile image

KathyH 4 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada Author

Thanks for commenting lauramaryscott! :) I wonder what they'd find by digging around here?! Very interesting! Thanks so much for reading and for your thoughtful comment! :)


lauramaryscott profile image

lauramaryscott 4 years ago from Boise, Idaho

KathyH, the tunnels in my neighborhood were big and the sloped downhill. Maybe they were used to roll something to the bottom. When the leveled the Indian mound I found some artifacts and I wanted the writings to be translated. They looked like ancient Egyptian symbols to me.


KathyH profile image

KathyH 4 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada Author

Wow, that is really neat lauramaryscott! :) We have something like that here when you get closer to the mountains. The ones here were made by Indians years ago, I think they're called Petroglyphs?? We saw them when we visited the Valley Of Fire State Park about an hour north of Las Vegas! :) Really interesting! Thanks for sharing your experience!


AdmiralJim profile image

AdmiralJim 3 years ago from North West England

The people that do actually live like this are certainly fascinating, yet sad to think about. You did a lovely job of humanising a community that can quite easily seem alien and unsavoury.

Nice heart-warming, as well as eye-opening piece.


KathyH profile image

KathyH 3 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada Author

Thanks so much for your kind words, Admiral Jim, I appreciate that very much! :) So glad you found it to be heart-warming, that's what I was hoping for while I was writing it. Thanks again!

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