What was she doing here in this hot weather? The day was hot and humid, yet going in and out of the subway would have been too expensive. Her chin hit the sidewalk. It happened almost without her realizing it. One minute she was up and the next down. Her whole body hurt but the chin got the worst of it. he hoped someone in the street full of people would offer to help her up. No one did. he struggled up again as best she could, picking up her purse. She shook her head and on she went. The day was too bright to think about heartlessness.
She was dressed in dark jeans, T shirt and a green raincoat. The woman had her face on top of the suitcase, holding on to it as tight as she could. The suitcase was just one of the many things inside the large shopping cart. There was also a black bag, some food items, books and pet food.It was Friday afternoon, late Friday afternoon before the big Memorial Day weekend. People walked by, talking about the big plans for the next 3 or 4 days. The woman never moved.
The large 4 door car was parked by the curb. A young woman standing by the rear part of the car held a handerchief to her face. “What happened?” someone asked. ”Her dog bit her. She had just come to pick her up after surgery.””The dog must have been stressed.” “ Maybe it was stress, maybe something else.” 3 People wearing blue uniforms came out of the Humane Society. One of those people was a large woman with a blanket on her arm. The woman put the blanket around the black Labrador. The dog yelled. “It’s ok. It’s ok:, the employee said.” Everything is going to be fine.” Someone gave the dog’s owner a mixture to put on her face. “This is until you go to the hospital and get stiches.” A large crowd gathered around the dog and the owner. An older woman stood at a distance with a worried look on her face. “I pity the poor dog and her owner,” she said to the person next to her. A tall blond girl touched the owner’s arm. “I don’t know what to do. I just don’t know what to do, Cheryl. When I came this afternoon I didn’t know she was going to be so scared. Fred was going to carry her up to the 3rd floor, but now?” The owner looked at the people watching the scene. “We can keep her for tonight, if you like,” the first employee said. “She likes to sit next to the driver’s seat. Thank you so much.”
It is early evening on the West Side of Manhattan. There is foot traffic everywhere; people are walking hurriedly by. A man wearing baggy jeans, a faded T shirt and a hoodie passes a Pret a Manger sandwich shop. He sees several garbage bags on the sidewalk and the curb. The man’s face is thin and drawn; there is hardly any energy in his dark eyes. Two or three of the bags are transparent. He bends down to look. He smiles just a little. The sandwiches inside the bags are wrapped in foil. The man glances at the passersby. “I’ll take as many as I can”, the man says to himself. “Keeping up appearances doesn’t count anymore.” The man opens his black duffel bag and puts 3 or 4 sandwiches inside. As soon as the light changes, he crosses the street.
She stood against the thin lamp post. It was painted dark green; it reminded her of a bench in a park somewhere. The feeling in her head was one of weakness. If he didn’t come pretty soon, she’d leave. All the other people waiting were pacing back and forth on the sidewalk or the pavement. It was late, past 6 in the evening, and he and his van still were nowhere to be seen. Maybe he had been held up in traffic. Somebody had robbed a jewelry store a few hours earlier and the cops were searching all the cars. She missed the Sandwich or Muffin Man. Her head was beginning to hurt. No, I don’t want to do this. I can’t do this, not today. I don’t care how much I need the sandwich. She said bye to a couple of the women she knew and walked towards the avenue.
Her body was thick. Her hips were chunky. The short black curly hair was unkempt. The skin on her face was pink in spots with pimples here and there. She barged into the hallway of the Housing Court floor. “Do you think you are going to go on living there for free? It doesn’t work that way. Go ahead. Say something that will make me feel sorry for you.” The lawyer gave the other woman the up and down look.
“I don’t think you’d feel sorry for the most crippled person on Earth, “the other woman wished she could have said.” Not even for a person forever in crutches. “The lawyer’s voice was shrill and hard, like an old trumpet played off key. The other woman knew that this housing court session would be long. She had many empty hours to fill between now and the end of the day.
She hadn’t taken a bath in days. Her armpits smelled. The clothes she was wearing smelled. She wished there was a bath, a place to get cleaned up. Normal. When was the last time she had felt normal, like her real self? She didn’t remember anymore. It was too painful to think about.
Another one. Another evicted cat, another evicted person. A new one, a situation similar to another one years ago. A situation with no place to go. A search without an answer. Forget, To forget this is happening. It is impossible. It’s too raw, too messy.
People gathered around the trunk of the pick up car. They were not a well dressed bunch; most of them wore castoff clothes from somewhere. A well dressed man in his 30’s carrying a dark leather briefcase stopped to take a look. He stared at the crowd with a puzzled look on his face. Someone from the group saw him. “It’s food for the poor,” she said with a faint smile on her face.” Would you like a sandwich, sir?”. The man moved on.
She wore her hair pulled back in a tight knot. Heavy makeup was on top of the wrinkles on her forehead. The shadows under her eyes were black. The woman’s cheeks were purple, with a medium purple colored circle in each cheek. Her voice cracked when she talked as if the effort to communicate was too much for her. “look at them. Just look at them! It’s disgusting. They’re like animals when the muffin man comes around.”
A young man sat in the wheelchair. The day was sunny and warm, early spring in the city. The young man didn’t seem to notice the weather. His chin rested on his chest and his eyes were closed. A cardboard sign hanging from his neck said:
I am Homeless. Need a miracle. Please help. People walked by him on their way to the subway.