Thursday, September 1, 2011

Welcome to paradise!

The characters and events in this post are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

His  rattletrap car only just gasped over the seven mile Overseas Highway and finally let out it's last groan on Stock Island. He ditched the pathetic deathtrap next to what looked like a trailer park and walked on to the island at the End of the World. He was grateful the car had gotten him as far it it had. He'd known the car was going to going be DOA but had risked it anyway because he had "no intention of never going back no how." And that's what he'd told his wife as he walked out the door. Her kids blinked at him blearily from where they curlicued on the doorstep, watching as he threw his bag into the backseat, understanding his flight but clearly longing for their own rescue.

He slumped against the car then looked over at the pair and finally walked over to give them a final embrace. "Ya'll can't come. I'm sorry. I got no way to provide for you and I just ain't doing you no good here. Ya'll be better off." He kissed matted scalps, noted the soiled skin and turned their tear stained faces upward. "Take your baths tonight and don't forget to brush your teeth. Ah right? now go on into the house."

Heads bobbled in tandem. They stumbled up, pulled on the wooden screen door that screeched in protest and let the door slam behind them.

He gazed at the rusted screen and chipped paint for a quiet moment, then settled in the front seat of his car and backed quickly out of the driveway, and didn't look back as he headed down Highway One.

According to the National Coalition for the Homeless' website "approximately 3.5 million people, 1.35 million of them children, are likely to experience homelessness in a given year (National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, 2007)." While there are many, many reasons people are homeless (mental illness, eroding working opportunities, foreclosures, decline in public housing, lack of affordable healthcare) the problem is nevertheless a visible reminder of America's shame. The wealthiest country in the world and yet we continue to have people sleeping on the streets, in the alleys and under our overpasses. In Key West, the weather is generally balmy and pleasant for outdoor living. As the summer ends it is worth noting that here in Colorado, people die each year from the bitter cold when they are homeless. 


  1. Very poignant post Danette. Yes, it is disgraceful that a country as wealthy as the US has some many in such dire need.

  2. Seeing homeless people in general always breaks my heart. Society in general has so much. There's really no reason for poverty. :)

  3. The United States has the income disparity of a third-world country. I think we rank just above Ruwanda. Yet Republicans scream "Class Warfare" at the poor from the backs of their yachts when closing the Bush-era tax loopholes would shore up $700 billion in revenue in only ten years.

  4. Oh, well done - a great piece of flash fiction. It's a bittersweet topic, I always wonder how people came to be homeless, its really intrigues me. Sad that this is how people must live in our world. I wish that were not the case.

    Hope you get some lovely R&R my friend! xox

  5. Oh, this is so very sad and moving. Great piece of writing.

  6. Thanks Ann! Yes it is disgraceful- and unnecessary.

    Laila: There isn't the need for this kind of poverty is there? Yet we have a lot of anger towards the moochers and the lower class.

    Michael: I appreciate that you call it what it is: CLASS WARFARE. So many are afraid to. It's a war on the poor!

    Talei: Thank you my dear friend, you brighten my day! I too wonder and imagine and write.

    LadyFi: Thank you so much!

  7. Powerful, and so true. A bitter shame for the US.


  8. Very moving piece, Danette.

    The statistics about homelessness and inequality are sad, but not really surprising, and are just as shameful in Britain and Canada. Sadly, Western politicians increasingly run scared from any suggestion that society has any role to play in looking after the welfare of its citizens. To which I ask, what the heck else is society for?


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