Tuesday, April 19, 2011

16th and Island - Chapter 5 - Echelons and Neon Green Carpets (Part 3)

This is a true story of a homeless family we met last year. Some of the names have been changed.

       “Hey guys, this here is Charles. He’s bin a good friend to us, protectin’ me an’ Jeb from that crazy Shelby,” Susan drawled.
       “Oh we met earlier.” Charles said, his huge grin showing his false teeth.
       “You see, down here there are good people and bad people. Charles, he be a good person – he is an esh-al-on, and he takes care of stuff down here. Every one respects him, you see, and Shelby don’t dare come near us when Charles be around.”
            Pete gave me a knowing look.  A small alarm went off in my mind. Susan seems way too trusting. “Well thanks for looking after them,” I managed to say.
           “It’s my pleasure. That’s what I do.” Charles said.
           The camp of homeless people next to Susan and Jeb’s car started to get rowdy. One lady, who was missing most of her teeth and whose face was caked with dirt, was holding a paper bag with a bottle in it. She sat in the lap of a homeless man, who as equally dirty and was sitting in an equally dirty fold up chair.
            “I am your b-----,” she cackled. “In treatment, they taught us to make ‘I’ statements. Well, my ‘I’ statement is “I am your b-----.”
           “You are an f------- foul b-----, that’s what you are,” he laughed, as did the rest of the group.
         “That’s not an “I” statement,”  the lady howled with laughter, passing the bottle of booze to another lady. “I am sitting in the lap of a f------- retarded homeless man, now that is an “I” statement. …”
I wanted cover Jeb’s ears, who was still riding his skateboard, to shield him from hearing such filth. I looked both ways to see if I could see the tow truck coming, as if I could will Jeb off the streets faster by my impatience. Pete said to Jeb anxiously, “Stay in sight.”
Susan said, “My Mama would roll over in her grave if she heard this. I was dun’ raised in a respectable middle-class family, and I never heard nobody cursin’ up a storm like this.  This har be no place for a child like Jeb to be."
A tall homeless man came around the corner. He looked to be about in his mid-forties or early fifties, and had a long braid of salt and pepper hair and a full beard. He was clean, and had handsome, large features. He walked over to us, and said soft-spokenly, “Hi Susan.”
“Pete, Andrea, this here is Judah, the man I was talking at you about. He be the one who sat up with me last night when Shelby was threatenin’ us. Pete and Andrea are going to take Jeb and me to a place in Vis-tah where we can stay, away from Shelby. . . ”
“Nice to meet you Judah,” Pete interjected.
“Mama, I need to use the toe-let, now, or I’m gonna poop my pants!” Jeb interjected.
“You gonna wear me out boy.  God’s Extended Hand be closed, and we gotta walk all the way to 15th Street to go at the Mexican restaurant, Salazar’s I think its called,” she sighed, “Judah, will you walk with us in case that Shelby be lurkin around?”
Judah agreed to go with them, and we said we would watch for the tow truck. Jeb took his skateboard with him.
Pete held me tightly as we waited for the tow truck. “I am glad that little boy will be away from all this,” he whispered in my ear as the people in the camp next to us continued to cuss and yell, and a fight broke out around the street.
Twenty minutes later Jeb and Susan returned, and a few minutes later, the tow truck came. Not a moment too soon.


  1. Quite the spectacle going on there. No doubt you were so eager to get out of that place but sadly that is life for many of the down and outers. Am still away from home but will follow your story as best I'm able. Blessings. xx

  2. It is a huge tragedy, and they definately need Christ's love. I was just glad to get Jeb out of there


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