What I’m Writing …
I am getting ready to self publish my first novel, SAINT JIM, within the next month. I believe it’s good enough, but finding an agent to represent it is difficult for an unknown author. Currently it’s with an editor going through a Copy Edit run to make sure all the typos are culled from it. The novel is about a homeless addict. His drug of choice is healing people. He is bestowed the gift of healing and sees auras on those that need his gift, but when an entity appears in, on, or around people in need, it compels him to action. He hears a voice in his head saying, “Help Them.”
So A Few Weeks Ago …
I had stopped at a local store to pick up something to eat on the way to work. I noticed a couple of guys talking. Upon leaving, one of the two, a high school kid, was passing me while telling the other that he had no cash but would pick up some food. I glanced more closely at the guy. He was wearing ratty coveralls. We made eye contact. Damn.
“Excuse me, I need a ride … ” he said softly. I pretended not to hear him and got into my car. He ran up the passenger window and waved and I shrugged my shoulders and pulled out and left. I almost got out of the parking lot and I felt this pull on me. It was almost like in my novel. Don’t know if it was my conscience or God or guilt that intervened, but I felt a force saying, “Help him.”
I pulled back into the lot and drove back to the store where he stood getting the food from the kid. I pulled into the parking space and waved the guy to the passenger side. He said he needed to get to a cross-street near the Tollway, because that’s where his stuff was. I thought about for a second and my gut instincts said he was harmless. I told him to get in.
On the drive there he told me his name was Brett. He had come back down to this area to get his coveralls because the weather was changing and he didn’t want to get caught in the cold, I asked him if downtown had some shelters he could stay in. Brett said that he rather be homeless in North Dallas. The homeless in downtown were hardcore and some were into drugs, and he did not need that temptation.
Brett mentioned that others had told him he was too young to be homeless. I figured him for about twenty-four close-cropped hair and clean-shaven. Unknown to him, he pointed to my neighborhood as we passed it, and said he used to live there. He rattled off the names of my children’s elementary, middle, and high schools. He continued saying that he had no family. His grandparents had died and his parents had written him off. His brother had got out of jail and he hoped he could team up together to get off the streets, but his brother was caught up in drugs now, too.
Being on the street was tougher than he thought. He mentioned that he had to be careful to eat properly and drink plenty of water, The ride was greatly appreciated and told me it made his day, because he said it would have ordinarily taken all day to walk it. I gave Brett whatever cash I had, and he left my car with a smile on his face.
We are all sinners and saints. It depends on which voice we want to listen. I have guilt about my initial reaction. I was a jerk. We can remain afraid and do nothing, or we can extend our humanity to others. If a child is crying alone on the street, most of us would stop to help them. Homeless people cry out, but not in the same obvious way as children. They have emotions mixed with pride, shame, and helplessness that debilitate them. Sometimes a kind word, a sympathetic ear, and a few dollars are all that is required to make their day.
Don’t forget that they are out there. They are not relegated to just downtown/urban areas. They are in the suburbs and may have once been your neighbors. We are entering the season of giving. We can all work to be more like saints and try not to ignore them.
I searched on “homeless in suburbs” and got this as the second hit in the list:
Hidden Homeless Grow in Number in North Texas Suburbs – Dallas Morning News