We are back in the winter of 2000, and as I was leaving work, this old, stinky man latched onto my arm, saying “I think I’m having a heart attack“. And I go REALLY, well sir, you’ve attached yourself to the wrong lass.
I’m sorry, yeah right. He was halfway to China and back drunk and more than likely having a panic attack. Whatever it was, it went away rather fast. He wasn’t holding his chest or clutching his arm or anything that made him look like he was anything else but three sheets to the wind.
At that time I was a hardcore pedestrian, I was of really little use to him. I know, that sounds cold, but the guy just wanted money or company, and I had neither of those things. But he stayed latched on, so on we strolled down Richmond, past Victoria Park, past St. Peter’s Basilica, my GrandpaD’s church. The whole while, understand, with 2 feet high plowed snow on either side of this rather narrow sidewalk.
Rarasaur is hosting the Weekly Writing Challenge, and dang-nammit, I’ll give ya a perspective. I’ve told this story once before, but not really to my satisfaction. I guess because the whole experience still haunts me, and I know there are a lot of perspectives I gained that day.
It was strange walking down that street with a bum. You know… you become as invisible as them !!! Really. Try it. I swear, its sorta like an art to not being seen. Except this guy was more like having this real stinky Magic Ring. You won’t believe how many people practically walked right into me.
Anywho, the whole time we chatted away. At one point, I remember wondering what this old dude is making of all this? I must seem rather as strange to him, as he is to me. I suppose most would have shaken him off at some point or another, but I didn’t have the heart. The dear old thing, drunk as a skunk, little human kindness, and company on part of my 45-minute walk home would be welcome.
As we talked, this muddled story of his life came out. It came out of him in fits and starts. He’d meander off topic, and go on these tangents where he said nothing you could understand then he would fade back a bit and another piece of him would emerge.
From what I could piece together, he lost his job at some plant in London, laid off with a bunch of others. Have no idea what year this happened or what plant, but I recall he said him and his wife used to have a place off or near Adelaide, which was a few streets over. Well, I guess after one more night out drinking, he came home and his wife had committed suicide.
So that’s why he was where he was.
I wonder though, about what he made of that walk of ours? I left him in the McDonalds that night, after sitting some more and talking, drinking a coffee. He begged to stay under my front porch, and oh how quiet he would be. I said, ah, no. For one, there wasn’t an ‘under’ to our porch, it was stone. Another little detail was that my roommate would have KILLED me.
“Ha, yeah, ha, J there’s a bum spending the night under our front porch. He says he’ll be ever so quiet, and be gone by morning.”
Rara? Rara I bet would have let him. Heck, she would have had him sleeping on the couch in the livingroom.
I’m sure he was completely harmless. AND, I was walking right by the Men’s Mission, so I told him I didn’t mind walking him there. He declined.
After we parted ways, I broke down and decided to take the bus the rest of the way home…I still had about a good 20 – 30 minutes walk ahead of me. But I was almost 3 hours now late getting home, it was well past dark, and I was cold and feeling a little sad. Feeling sad that so many lost souls fall through the cracks.
I don’t feel sorry for him, he put himself where he is. He decided. Yet, it is sad. It is so much easier to just drink their life away, and one day they are woken up, and everything they once loved is gone. So they just go on drinking.
You think how easily it can all just fall apart, where once everything was as it should be, the next it has all shifted.
That day, as I stood there waiting for that bus, I watched his old, tired body shuffling by on the other side of the road…heading to the Men’s Mission, I suppose. I watched him, as he crossed the road, and went under the bridge, and disappeared.