Monday, February 28, 2011

16th and Island - Chapter 4 - Operation Hope (Part Four)

This is a true story. Some of the names have been changed.

      I squeezed Pete's hand, and walked into God's Extended Hand.
   I walked slowly towards the back of the room, which was packed full of homeless men, women, and a few children eating breakfast at white plastic tables. The room was simple, with few decorations, but clean. I breathed slowly as I approached Susan and Jeb's table. Susan and Jeb were eating the same meal as Charles - fake looking cafeteria eggs, a piece of sausage, a piece of toast, and a small side of fruit.
    "Hi Susan - do you remember me? I met you the other night in front of your car. Our church was passing out peanut butter sandwiches."
    Susan looked surprised and said, "Well, I sure do remember ya. Why don't ya sit yourself down in that ther char'? Are you hungry? Get yourself some fixins." Jeb grinned at me between mouthfuls of egg and toast.
     "Thanks, I already ate", I said, sitting across from her. "You are probably wondering why I am here. Since the other night when we met you guys, my husband and I couldn't stop thinking about you."
    Susan broke down into tears. I walked over to her and gave her a hug. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to make you cry".
     "You just can't begin to understan' all we've been through, and this is all jus' so embarrasing. I'm grew up in a good, upright, Christian middle class family, and to be down here, homeless, it would make my poor Mama roll over in her grave!"
     "You've just fell on some hard times, that's all, Susan. It could happen to anyone."
     "You're so kind," Susan dried her eyes, and put on a smile. I sat back down, this time next to her. "We've had a lot of people be real kind to us, down here, so I don't mean to be complainin' none. Jeb, show this here lady the skateboard Santa gave ya at your school! The school he goes to, hit be for homeless kids, it's called the Monarch School, well they gave him that thar skateboard for Christmas," she whispered confidentally.
    Jeb smiled brightly, "Don'ya jus' love it? Hit can go reel fast" He was beaming with pride, as he started riding it back and forth on the ceramic tile floor. And of course no one thought to donate pads or a helmet to go with it! Oh well, he is so happy.
    "Mama, this har floor is too bumpy - I want to go outside and skateboard!"
     "Jeb, now you jus' have to wait - I'm talkin' to this lady, and don't ya be rude!" Susan yelled
     "Yes Mama," Jeb replied. What a sweetheart! Homeless and going through hell, and more polite then most kids I know!
     "So how have you guys been doing since the other night?" I asked.
     Susan looked as if she would tear up again. She leaned over to me and whispered, "It has jus' been Gawd-awful, like you would not believe! But I do not want ta tawlk about it whar Jeb can hear."
    "Oh, I understand. My husband is outside - maybe he could watch Jeb while we talk."
   "I don't keer to trouble him..."
  "It's no trouble - he is just standing out there."
    "Well, are ya sure it wouldn't be no trouble?"
   "Of course - let me go ask him!"
   Pete of course agreed to watch Jeb, who was happy to have more space for skateboarding, and I watched back into God's Extended Hand.

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