Homeless, old and invisible on the streets
The Upstairs Apartment in Downtown Olympia
About this Challenge
This is my response to a Writers Challenge set by Author William Holland (Billybuc) The story is set in seedy Downtown Olympia, The events and persons portrayed here are entirely fictitious.
Sally Gulbrandsen (c)
Was it Only Yesterday?
Was it really only yesterday that I walked from the apartment, with my short skirt reaching to just below my Arse. Was it only yesterday that you heard my high heels mark their usual route down the dark streets?
My red umbrella served to protect me from the falling rain, while filth and debris floated all around me. The driving rain diluted the usual foul stench of urine and kept the occasional fleeting rat from venturing out.
Sheets of brown cardboard failed to protect the homeless man from the elements. Neither he nor I acknowledged one another. Huddled beneath the sodden brown cardboard, thin arms pulled tight around his knees while he tried desperately to control his shaking body. I left him there alone in his own cold misery.
On my way home with the rain still pissing down. I heard the sound of a car drive alongside me and inside sat four drunken men. They peered out at me through the half-open car windows as only drunken men of their ilk can. Hey, there sweetheart you want to have a good time? Do you want a lift home? There was more than a suggestion of what I might be expected to provide at our final destination.
I ignored them. I kept my umbrella pulled down low and I walked as fast as I was could in those ridiculous red heels. They drove alongside me, keeping up with me so I ducked into the back alley which led to my apartment. It was so dark down there. I was walking fast, but it seemed I was not fast enough for them because before long I thought I heard the sound of hurried footsteps coming from behind. I stopped to listen. Was it a fox, a stray cat or mongrel? I picked up a loose stone and tossed it behind as if to scare them away. I heard the stone fall into the darkness and then I heard the sound of hurried steps and voices coming at me through the driving rain.
Fear gripped me and without warning someone flung themselves at me, sending me and my purse flying to the ground. I screamed in terror and then a large wet hand descended on my mouth. I tasted stale nicotine and booze so I sunk my teeth deep into his horrible thick flesh He hit me, real hard, the blow sent me spinning into the sodden ground while a wedding ring cut through the flesh on my lips. The taste of blood filled my mouth.
He yelped in pain, the bitch he yelled to the others, she bit me. So together they held me down, tearing my underwear from my behind. The four of them, like rabid dogs in their drunken frenzy, took from me in turns what was not theirs to take in the first place. One by one they had their way with me then left me lying there; delivering a few final kicks to my backside whilst they adjusted their trouser zips, smug mouths and mud trodden boots, all three of them going back to their wives, while inside of me, their tiny sperm swam as if for their lives depended on me. Abandoned like a mongrel they left me there to lick my wounds. I crawled shakily to my knees, mud and blood trickling down between my knees. I knelt there helpless; hands on the ground whimpering like a dog, fumbling for my purse in the muddy darkness.
Abandoned like a mongrel they left me there to lick my wounds. I crawled shakily to my knees, mud and blood trickling down between my knees. I knelt there helpless; hands on the ground whimpering like a dog, fumbling for my purse in the muddy darkness.
Lass, can I help you? The homeless old man stood there in the soaking rain, his long grey greasy hair dripping in the rain. The driving rain sent droplets of water tumbling down through his greasy strands of hair. His face was etched with concern and grey stubble as he stood there with legs spread apart, like a giraffe drinking from a puddle. His pale blue rheumy eyes peered down at me. Are you alright Lass, can I be of any assistance? The voice when it came, so surprisingly soft, so educated and so very formal.
Without waiting for a reply, he lifted me from the ground, held me like a child in his thin arms. His thin undernourished body staggered under the unaccustomed weight, but somehow he kept on holding me. I felt his thin bones pushing through the sodden clothing. Stale alcohol fumes wafted across my face. Water blended with the mud and blood. Water squished from holes in the worn out shoes. He stumbled with his burden down the back streets, carrying me with some difficulty but he finally made it up the three flights of stairs to the apartment.
I fumbled with my muddy wet purse and handed him the keys. He opened the door and placed me tenderly down on the couch. Still breathing heavily he stumbled across the room to the open bathroom door clutching a large bath towel to his chest. He clumsily patted the blood from my face and wiped the mud, blood and water from my hair. Would you like me to call the cops he asked? No, I said it will just be their word against mine, who would believe me?
Shivering with shock and cold, I heard the sound of running water and unexpectedly the scent of lavender wafted out towards me. I saw him place fresh towels on the rail and then he came back into the room and without asking he poured a long stiff drink from the bottle of vodka as he stood there. He lifted the glass to his mouth and downed the contents in one go. Then he poured another but, instead of drinking it he walked across to the open bathroom door and left it sitting on the edge of the bath for me. Lock the door behind you child he said, you have a nice bath Lass, you'll feel better in the morning. The door close quietly behind him and the sound of his footprints faded slowly behind him.
In the months ahead we passed one another at the bottom of the stairs. He acknowledged me with a tilt of his hat. He watched me with a quiet kindness and some empathy especially when he saw I was with child. I saw the kindness in his eyes, but not a word passed between us about what happened that night but we both knew that it would forever bind us together just like thick treacle?
They found him one night, cold and very dead beneath the stairs. In his top pocket, they found a single sheet of paper, witnessed by two people. His vast fortune he left to me and my unborn child.
I alone attended his funeral. His gravestone lies close to the churchyard stairs where he once lived.
Fred Ward. He who remained invisible, right to the finish line. May God Bless Him
Homeless - Being Poor in America is now a Crime
Helping to Create Awareness
Will this story affect the way you look at homeless people in the future?
Link to the Writers Challenge and Author William Holland
- A Writing Challenge: The Door to Nowhere
Come one, come all, a new test of your writing abilities awaits you.
Asleep under the Heavens
© 2015 Sally Gulbrandsen