Homeless

Southern Snow copyShe was so tiny I almost didn’t see her there crouched down between two large garbage cans. She peeped out of the hood of the enormous black winter coat that enveloped her. We looked each other in the eye as I left the parking lot and I walked passed her silently. It was a chilly evening in Nashville and I was on my way over to Hatch Show Print which was part of the monthly art crawl. The crawl was a fun event where folks could tour the art galleries and studios of Nashville for a night. After a nice talk at Hatch with my friend Jim and I decided to go back to my truck to get a sketch pad.
As I approached the parking lot I could see her black form still huddled between the two dark cans. She was almost invisible in plain sight. I got my sketch pad from the truck and headed back in her direction. Again, we had eye contact. This time I said “Hi,” and she said “Hi” back. I stopped. “Are you Ok? I asked. She meekly said she was. When I asked her why she was there she told me she had no place to go and was just trying to stay warm.  I offered her a ten dollar bill and a tiny hand came out of the massive black coat and accepted the money. She thanked me and I left her there.
I went back to Hatch and then proceeded on to various galleries and art shows. I kept thinking about her. I thought back to my first week in Nashville many years ago and the park I slept in when I didn’t know anyone. I thought about the cold. After the crawl I headed back to my truck.  As I approached the garbage cans I wondered if she would still be there. I knew if she was a druggie or alcoholic she would be gone looking to spend that ten spot. But she was still there. I stopped and talked with her again. She told me she had recently gotten to Nashville via greyhound bus but didn’t know anyone here and was waiting on a check. She had a slight European accent and I couldn’t really tell her age. She had a thin face and had straight, black hair with small, dark eyes. I suspected she wasn’t as old as she looked. After getting a good read on her I asked her if she would like to sleep in a house for the night. She gladly accepted the offer. I told that I could help her for only one night. I explained that I didn’t have my own home in Tennessee and I was staying with a friend who would be gone for the night. She stood up and was a good foot shorter than me. She walked slowly with an obvious limp towards my truck carrying all her belongings in sacks with her. When we got to the truck she hesitated. “Do you have a blanket you could put down on the seat? I really stink.” She sure did. There was a strong urine smell. “Don’t worry about it,” I said and she sheepishly climbed in the passenger seat. She said her name was Tiffany but it didn’t suit her and I wondered if it was a fake name.
When we got to the house I gave her something to eat. She showered and I gave her some clean clothes to sleep in. I offered her the couch and she was out like a light and didn’t wake up till noon. While she slept I washed her clothes, including her coat. They still smelled so I washed them a second time. One of her bags were full of adult depends.
In the morning I made a call to the Rescue Mission downtown and they told me to bring her over. When she woke up I made her breakfast and she was appreciative and cheerful. But when I told her about the Rescue Mission she became agitated. “I have been there!…and I didn’t like it! I would rather be on the street.” I really didn’t like the thought of dropping her off at the garbage cans. “Where would you like to go then?“ I asked. She smiled like a little girl and said, ”a Walmart parking lot.” When I told her Walmart was kind of far from everything else and that it would be hard to get around with her bum leg she got annoyed again. “There is nothing wrong with my leg!” she snapped. I agreed to drop her off at Walmart and she was happy again. On the way there she was cheerful and talkative. The sun was shining and it was a mild day. She had clean clothes, a clean body and a full belly. I did all I could do for her. But I still felt like a heal when I dropped her off in the Walmart parking lot off Charlotte Ave.

2 thoughts on “Homeless

  1. *tears*
    At least you helped her- one of my greatest regrets is missing the chance to help someone who was homeless, and shortly after he was dead in the street.
    So sad.

    Like

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