“Good morning, Ted. I must have missed you yesterday.”
“No, with the strong winds I decided to rest instead. I have a place to stay now. I’ve had it for 12 days, but only slept there 3. I have to transition into sleeping inside. I leave the windows wide open. I don’t have any furniture, but that’s not a problem. I haven’t slept in a bed for 7 years. I talked to my worker yesterday. I get a welfare allowance of $700. My rent is $485. That doesn’t leave much to spare. I think I’m going to buy a bed today. I can get one at the Salvation Army for $50 and they offer free delivery. I’d like to get a television. My landlord gave me a television aerial that attaches to the wall. He said I’d be able to get 13 channels. I’d be happy with 2.
“I was a trapper up north for 29 years. I was married, had two kids, but that kind of a life is hard on a family. I’d be away for seven months at a time. Eventually my wife moved in with my best friend. That really hurt. It only lasted for 6 months before he threw her out. We had a family gathering at Christmas, but I couldn’t bring myself to look at my wife. My daughter, who is short and round invited me into the bedroom. I thought that was odd, but she opened the closet door and there were seven years of Christmas presents that came tumbling out. Then she reached up and smacked my face. She said, ‘Don’t you dare go away again without letting us know where you are.’ I’ve promised her and my son that I’d keep in contact with them.
“My worker has arranged for me to take a course in social skills. I’ve lived alone for so long I’ve forgotten how to talk to people. I sometimes say things that sound right to me, but others take offence. I often think that my way is right and that’s all there is to it.
“Do you know Bernard?”
“I haven’t seen him since the first week of December. He was hoping that his worker would find him a place to stay before Christmas. I haven’t seen him since then.”
“Well the last time I saw Bernard we were standing here together. I’d loaned him $200, then lay down and went to sleep. When I awoke Bernard was gone and I was short another $100 that had been in my pocket. This is the only place I’ve seen him so I’ve been standing here everyday hoping that he’ll return. That isn’t looking very likely.”
“I’m sorry to hear that, Ted. Bernard seemed like such a friendly, happy person. I’m disappointed in him.
“I noticed that you were reading a newspaper, do you enjoy reading?”
“Yes, I read all the time. It comes from living alone for so long.”
“Here’s a copy of my book Gotta Find a Home: Conversations with Street People. The names and places have been changed, but you may recognize some people you know. I hope you enjoy the read.”
“Thanks, Dennis, I really appreciated this.
“After I leave here I’m going home to take a shower, maybe I’ll take two.”
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Gotta Find a Home; Conversations with Street People