Archive for the ‘displacement’ Category

Evicted

September 15, 2018

Evicted

Oh, you don’t know. You have no idea what it’s like to be evicted. You have no idea how it makes you feel. It is horrible, similar to being the unwilling protagonist in a horror movie. The emotional pain is beyond belief; it scares and humiliates a person. The part that comes after you are forced to move out is even worse. There you are, with bags of stuff all around you, black bags, white bags and yellow bags. There is nowhere to go. Whether the weather is good or not too good is not important. You still feel crappy, like a desperate person in a 1930s movie, hugging yourself for comfort. Seeing the sidewalk, which is now your home, is enough to make you sick to your stomach. You want to get some sleep, but there is always a security guard somewhere to stop you. You can’t stay here, he says. Go somewhere else. Go where, you want to ask him, but why bother?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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You Can’t

August 29, 2018

You Can’t

There are no safe places.  She sat on the crate outside an empty store. Her cup wasn’t out. She was just there with a cup of Starbucks coffee in her hand. It was her treat to her herself—one of the very few pleasant experiences of her day. The security guard came to her out of nowhere. I am sorry, he said. You can’t sit there. She looked at him. I will be here for just a few minutes, but next time call the cops if you want. I am warning you he told her as he left to walk into the restaurant next door. What is the use? She got up and left. I will deal with this tomorrow. Today I am tired.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bags

July 30, 2018

The Bags

She entered the supermarket on Broadway near the Williamsburgh Bridge and after using the bathroom, she put her bags in the shopping cart. She walked to where in the summer they put out fresh cut up fruit. None today, she thought, shrugging her shoulders. She went to where the bread was behind glass windows and put one long whole wheat roll in a paper bag. In the cheese department, there were no more cheese samples. It was late, after 7 P.M. Her third sample stop was the cracker container. She tasted one or more; the head cashier, an older woman with bleached red hair closed the container while her hand was trying to get a cracker. The woman paid no attention and walked on. What else could she buy today besides the bread? She chose the cheapest wrapped cheese for $4.00. She couldn’t afford much. If she liked the samples it was because she was hungry, hungry most of the time. Somewhere near the coffee aisle, a short stocky man in his 30s stopped her. Come here, he said. I want tell you something.  She guessed it was the manager of the store. From now on, you will put your bags underneath, he said. You take too many samples. Other people want to eat too. What samples, she wanted to ask him. There are none left today. He called over the older woman in the fake red hair. Evelyn, she is going to put the bags underneath. If I take samples, the accused woman said, it’s because I often don’t have enough to eat. His brown eyes didn’t seem to care. Then you come to me. She didn’t believe him. She had been eating samples for about 2 years and people walking down the street had been offering her food for even more years, so what was the big deal? She knew she looked raggedy and the people shopping at the supermarket were on the prosperous side. If the manager hadn’t said anything about putting the bag underneath, she simply wouldn’t have gone back to the supermarket. As it was she felt singled out and humiliated. Often she bought stuff from the supermarket even if she didn’t need to because it was her first stop after feeding her cats. Having someone imply that she was a potential shoplifter was making her Sunday stressful and bleak.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leftovers

July 12, 2018

Leftovers

People walked by with lunch food—paper bags and plastic bags full of food. Some looked down at the two people sitting on the sidewalk by the curb and walked on. Some gave them looks as if to ask: Why don’t you just work already? The man was not too thin, but his companion was an elderly woman. Her arms were skinny and her eyes had no light in them. Someone stopped by the woman. Would you like this? The woman grabbed the bag and thanked the person. It’s a burger and fries. The man shrugged. Take it. She opened the container and chewed hard, as fast as she could. I am hungry. I am really hungry, leftovers or no. This is food.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Afternoon of Nothing

July 2, 2018

Afternoon of Nothing

She waited. She waited all afternoon. It was hot, with water going down her face. It was no use wiping it off. What would have been the point? Her red cup was next to her. She crossed her legs and looked at the people walking by: mothers with their kids, men and women wearing suits and carrying portfolios, young women with short summer dresses—all of them passed her, not seeing her. She looked down at the cup. Empty—it was completely empty. For this, she thought, I might as well have gone elsewhere, done something else. She had no idea what that something else was, but the idea appealed to her. I am tired, she said to herself. Forget about it this afternoon. I am leaving. She got up, took her bags and walked away.

 

Sleep

June 4, 2018

She sat on the white crates–one on top of another, then another and a third crate. She closed her eyes. The wind bothered her, but at least the rain had stopped. She hated getting wet. Life on the sidewalk was more real than anything she had ever experienced. It was hard concrete all the way through. For 10 minutes her mid took her somewhere safe and warm, to a place without pain and unkindness. Someone tapped her on the shoulder. She shook herself and looked to see a hand holding a dollar bill. ” Here. Could you use this?” She half smiled. “Yes. Thank you very much. I need a cup of coffee.”

pennies

May 31, 2018

Pennies

2 cents—is that your generous offer to my empty cup? Are the 2 pennies going to help me out here on the street? I am not ungrateful—not at all. Beggars can’t be choosers—I know that too well. Just think about it. If someone offered you 2 cents, would you like it? No, you’d feel insulted, maybe even humiliated. Being in the raw, as on the sidewalk is hard enough.

 

 

Zero in the Sun

May 29, 2018

Zero In the Sun

She didn’t arrive early at her site—Tuesday after the long holiday weekend might not be as good as she hoped. She sat on her crate just when the lunch crowd was walking by. It was 89 degrees and the sun was beating furiously. She thought she would faint. Her faithful cup and her sign were next to her. The sign was a little the worse for wear but she hadn’t had time to write a new one. Her thin arms were uncovered; she didn’t want the people to see that in places the skin sagged but she had nothing to cover them up with. She shrugged her shoulders and stretched them. It didn’t matter; unfortunately there was no way to turn back the clock. Her head needed protection. She bent down to get a newspaper from her bag. Hours went by. The cup remained empty. There was no food, either. How would it end—her little story? She shrugged her shoulders again. One more hour—if nothing happened by then, she’d leave.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Horror Floor

May 22, 2018

The floor—the floor is your home. The floor is your refuge. It is where you spend your time, whatever is left of your life. You consume—you drink that liquid thing out of the can. You drink a lot of that liquid. It goes down your throat; you want another and another and then one more. The cans put you to sleep. Because of the cans you are not you. You are not the intelligent man you once were; you are hardly a person. You have become that can.

 

Horror Floor

May 22, 2018

The floor—the floor is your home. The floor is your refuge. It is where you spend your time, whatever is left of your life. You consume—you drink that liquid thing out of the can. You drink a lot of that liquid. It goes down your throat; you want another and another and then one more. The cans put you to sleep. Because of the cans you are not you. You are not the intelligent man you once were; you are hardly a person. You have become that can.