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The Tunnel People
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.