Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Living the dream?

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 gasped over the seven mile Overseas Highway, finally letting out it's last groan on Stock Island. He shrugged off the inconvenience, ditched the pathetic deathtrap next to what looked like a trailer park and lumbered on to the island at the End of the World. He'd known the car was going to going be DOA but had taken the risk because he had "no intention of never coming back no how, no way" he balled at his overhung wife who squinted sluggishly at him in the doorway before he slammed the door for the last time.

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 the rattletrapped car and backed quickly out of the driveway.

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. 

note from the author: I was reminded of this post (it's a repost) when I visited a blogging friend who lives in Key West and saw his post for today. Conchscooter posts essays on life in the Keys as well lovely photographs of his surroundings. Today's post was meaningful and timely considering an economic climate which keeps the poorest enslaved to poverty and homelessness. You can see it here. (And Conch- though I know you don't collect or cherish blogging awards, you really do deserve the "no, Thank YOU!" Great Comments award.)



  1. Give you something to think about.

  2. Thanks for posting this, Danette. It's a reminder to me to be kind to the homeless people. Honestly, I'd help them out more if they were friendly to me. But most of them just ask for money and could care less how I'm doing as a person.

  3. Oh and I did ask a homeless person once if he supported gay marriage. They said no. And I said, "Well I can't help you then."

    1. We can't (and probably don't) help everyone with a dollar here and a dollar there Michael so I wouldn't feel too guilty about it. I rarely give the people on the street corners money. My issue is that as a society we should be providing more gov't help so that the mentally ill (and so many of them are mentally ill) can be taken care of (somewhat). Some of them would still prefer the street but not all-- and then there are the women with children...

      We just need to push our local gov't to do more, is all I'm saying.

  4. What a very moving story!

    There are homeless here too - such a shame in countries that should have enough for everyone!


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