Here's My Story
On The Corner
“What’s your story?” I asked the man on the corner, asking for money. “Story?” he asked, “What makes you think I have a story?”
“Everyone has a story,” I told him, “But if you don’t want to share, I understand. “
“You’re right,” the man said, “I do have one. But you don’t wanna listen to this ol’ man’s story.”
I assured him that I did want to hear it. Slowly, hesitantly, he began.
An Ol' Man
His Story Begins...
I had a family once. A wife and two of the most beautiful little girls that you ever saw. God, I miss them. I haven’t seen ‘em since the oldest one was six and the younger one was four. They was at that age where I could really talk to them. I would tell ‘em stories and read them books. We had a lot of tea parties, too. They would put bows in my hair and paint my fingernails with marking pens. They loved it when I let them do that!
Ali, that was the older one, was in school. She just started and loved her teacher. Was always writing “I love you!” and drawing pictures for that teacher. Cassidy was going to preschool for three days a week. Both of ‘em smarter than anything.
My wife, she stayed at home with the girls. I worked for the railroad. I was gone a lot. Had to put food on the table, ya know?
Well, one day, I came home and none of ‘em were there. They were always there when I got home – nothing stopped them from being there. But they were gone.
The old man stopped talking for a minute. He had a faraway look in his eyes. He looked away and then back again. He looked as if he were trying to figure out if he should tell me the rest.
Finally, he continued.
Right about then I got a phone call. I didn’t wanna answer that phone. It rang six or seven times, then it stopped. A minute later it started ringing again. I had this feeling, ya know? I just knew I didn’t wanna hear what that phone call was about. It kept ringing, so finally I answered it.
I knew I didn’t wanna answer it. The first thing he said after he asked if it was me was that he was from the police department…I wanted to hang the damn thing up again, but I didn’t. I listened. I listened to some strange voice over a cold telephone line tell me the worst news that I somehow knew. There had been a bad accident. My family had been hit head on. The car rolled several times. This was before you had to wear seatbelts….
He stopped there. I was sure that I didn’t want to hear the rest of his story. I already knew how it was going to end…
He started talking again.
I had to make the plans. It was a nice service. But I didn’t wanna be there. I left and just started walking. I’ve been walking ever since….I never did go back home…it was just too hard….I couldn’t do it…
Deep In Thought
I’ve been everywhere, ya know? All over this country. Even went to Mexico and Canada some. But I always come back here. Makes me feel closer to them…but then I leave again cuz they ain’t here.
I could probably go back to the railroad. But they would all ask about my family…I couldn’t do that…
So now I just sit on the corner asking good people for money. About 3 or 4 out of every dozen or so give me a dollar or two. Some people give me food…some have offered jobs…some give me money. Some people just don’t get it and call me lazy and worthless…some have spit on me…one young buck tried to fight me….I just walked away from him. I really appreciate the people that help me out…
The Story Goes On...
I think the best place I’ve ever been was that Arlington Cemetery…so many good folks who died for our country. Some of ‘em just kids when they died. I can’t imagine that…or maybe I can. While I was out that way, I also seen that Vietnam wall. I missed Vietnam by a few years – but there are names of a lot of people I know on that there wall.
I’ve been to see that Mount Rushmore, too, and the Crazy Horse thing…took a lot of talented people to do those things…I don’t even know how they did it…there was a nice young man out that way. He let me stay with him for a few weeks…woulda let me stay longer, but I couldn’t handle being in a house that long…he put me to work cleaning up the yard and such…it was a mess! But I got it looking real nice…he paid me some money and that got me to the next place.
The next place was this ol’ farm I found. It was so ragtag and falling down that I didn’t think no one lived there. But there was this nice woman and her ol’ man that did. They had this field next to ‘em that needed some railroad ties stacked up and out of the creek that ran through there…I cleaned that up for ‘em. They gave me a little more money and a ride into town. They asked me to stay with ‘em – but I wanted to be along on my way. I asked them to take me to the bus station. They did – and gave me money for a bus ticket, too…I told ‘em they had already give me enough – they didn’t look like they had a pot to piss in – but they insisted, so I took it. I think it made them happy they could help.
I got off the bus in Phoenix…It was so damn hot there…but like everyone says – at least it’s a dry heat!
He laughed for a bit and then continued with his story…
Phoenix is where I found my dog. It was a little ol’ white thing…didn’t even come up to my knee…shaggy and dirty…you could tell he’d been on the streets for awhile, too…maybe as long as me...I called him to me and shared a sandwich with him…he followed me around so I decided to give him a name…called him Shaggy and he seemed to respond…he was the feistiest thing! Could do some tricks…he would stand up on his back legs and I’d pretend to shoot ‘em and he’d fall over like he’d died…he’d dance for his dinner…he did a lot more, too…he was with me for over a year, I guess…then he just up and disappeared…I hope some poor kid found him…
After Phoenix, I came back here. Something was just telling me I needed to be here…I never did find out why, but I just felt it was the place I was supposed to be. You ever see the soup kitchen over there offa Central? Worked there for a day or two…helping others that are kinda like me…on a different mission through life…made some friends…there was this one family…mom and dad and a little girl. It was hard to talk to them, but they kinda made me…the little girl was SaraLynn. Pretty little thing about 4 or 5…they had nowhere to go so I kinda helped them out a bit…told the dad he should call the railroad and see if they were hiring…he got a job out there…then I didn’t see ‘em no more…sure hope they’re doing okay…
That’s most of my story. Not a lot to tell…I’m just an ol’ man who’s been through some of the toughest times a man can go through…maybe I didn’t handle things well…but I handled them the only way I could…the only way I knew how…
Now…what’s your story?
- There are 564,708 people that are homeless in America on any given night
- 36, 708 of these homeless people are children
- 47,725 are veterans
- 269,991 are disabled and are unable to work