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Homeless, Old and Invisible on the Streets of 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 fleeing 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 with thin arms pulled tight around his knees 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 louts. They peered out at me through the half-open car windows and as only drunken men of their ilk can they called out, hey, sweetheart you want to have a good time? Would you like a lift home? There was more than a suggestion of what I might be expected to provide at our destination.
I ignored them. I kept my umbrella pulled down low and I walked as quick as I could in those ridiculous red heels. They drove alongside me, keeping pace with me so I ducked into a back alley which led to my apartment. It was so dark down there. I was walking fast, but it seemed not fast enough for it was not long before I thought I heard the sound of hurried footsteps coming from behind me. I stopped to listen. Was it perhaps a fox, a stray cat or a mongrel? I picked up a loose stone and tossed it behind as if to scare it 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 that horrible thick flesh He hit me, really 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. Then 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. One by one they had their way with me then left me lying there; delivering a few final kicks to my backside while they adjusted their trouser zips, smug mouths, and mud trodden boots, all three of them going back to their wives or girlfriends while inside of me, their tiny sperm swam as if 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 trickled 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 driving rain. Droplets of water tumbled through greasy strands of hair, pale blue rheumy eyes etched with concern, skin, grey and covered with thick stubble. His legs spread apart as he teetered like a giraffe drinking from a puddle. Are you alright Lass, can I be of assistance? The voice when it came, so surprisingly soft, so refined, so educated and oh so very formal.
Without waiting for a reply, he lifted me from the ground, held me like a child in his long thin arms. His thin undernourished body staggered under the unaccustomed weight, but somehow he kept a hold of me. I could feel 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 worn out shoes. He stumbled with his unaccustomed burden down back streets, finally arriving at my apartment where he staggered up the three flights of stairs.
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 and arrived back clutching a large bath towel to his chest. He clumsily patted the blood from my face and tenderly 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?
Still shivering with shock and cold, I heard the sound of running water and unexpectedly the scent of lavender as it wafted out towards me. I saw him place fresh towels on the rail through the open door and then he came back into the room and without asking he poured a long stiff drink from the bottle of vodka that 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 crossed the room to the still open bathroom door and left it sitting on the edge of the bath for me. Lock the door behind you child he said, have a nice bath Lass, you'll feel better in the morning. The door closed quietly behind him and I listened to the sound of his footsteps as they faded slowly behind him.
In the months ahead we passed one another at the bottom of the stairs. He always acknowledged me with a tilt of his hat. I saw the empathy in his eyes especially when he saw that I was with child. Not a word passed between us about what happened that night but we both knew that the event 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 to 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