Archive for September, 2010
by Jeff Walters
Wake from your sleep.
I’m drying all your tears, today. Today, we escape.
(Radiohead – Exit Music)
Tom was hard to find. He always is. But we found him as a product of our back-and-forth efforts, being torched by the sun and questioned by Honululu citizens baffled by our aimlessness here in rugged downtown China Town. I would have never thought my break-days would consist of spending time with broken people.
Three of us stand casting shadows onto his hungover body sprawled out the length of the bus stop bench. I kneel, becoming prepared to make level eye contact with a man who definitely doesn’t want to wake up right now. Last night he was drunk, as always, and that probably kept him up all night as it does every night. Still, I promised him this would happen. And I know he will love me in the end – though I don’t deserve the credit. So I nudge him once, twice, thrice. Finally his eyes crack open and pretend to see light for the first time in forever. Drool spills through and onto his shirt. But he sees me and I see him, finally, and I smile while a black duffel bag sits at my side. Blake holds a vibrant red blanket.
“Tom, you remember what I told you last night?”
“It’s you!” He sits up, using every last inch of energy.
“We brought you a bag of goodies.” As I unzip the bag I show him every item, from the first aid kit to the Bible, to the soap, and socks, etc.
Tom cries. He always cries, drunk or not drunk. “You brought this here? I needed a bag. And socks…”
Blake hands him the red blanket. I give him a hug. Before you know it, Tom places the bag to his right with the blanket on top and crashes into it. Asleep again. The ongoing effort to help him for a moment seems pointless, considering he’ll probably lose the bag or it’ll be stolen. And who wants to carry around a bright red blanket in the hardest area of the island? But I’m quick to reflect on the many times he’s cried and hugged me tight. What a good guy – spoiled by society. By alcohol. It’s unfortunate, and that’s how homelessness goes.
I stand and we walk away. Just another day. But this day will hopefully mean more than the previous days for Tom. He has no choice but to wake up sober, this time to find a handful of gifts at his disposal. And I pray that he reads that note that I wrote, stuffed between the two t-shirts, consisting of everything I feel and how God truly loves him.