Sunday, August 19, 2012

BUS STORY # 302 (“I Just Need A Place To Stay”)

Room In Your Heart And Home? by busboy4
Room In Your Heart And Home?, a photo by busboy4 on Flickr.

“I lost my apartment, I lost my wife and kid...”

I’ve just caught this fragment of conversation from the kid sitting across from me. He’s talking to another kid two seats back. There is more conversation, but between the engine and air conditioner noise of the old 300 and a loud conversation going on next to me, I really can’t make much out. 

He looks like he’s just made his 20s. Thin, long black hair under a baseball cap. Black jeans, black T-shirt.

A little while later, he calls out, “Don’t I know you from downtown?”

He’s looking at me.

“Me?”

“Yeah, you look familiar.”

“I don’t go downtown much,” I reply, a little off guard because I was downtown two days ago, and I’m wondering what are the odds, and where would he have seen me.

He tells me I just look familiar, and downtown’s where he’s been, but he can’t go back there now, there are people down there who want his head on a platter.

Whatever it was, it wasn’t his fault, but now he’s in the middle of a divorce. “I’ve lost my apartment, I’ve lost my wife and kid, and I just need a place to stay.”

I hear a slight quaver in his voice.

He says he wouldn’t be there except at night because of all these appointments and classes he’s going to. He can work, wash dishes, take out the trash...He could bring in two hundred dollars worth of food stamps...

I start to ask doesn’t he have any friends who can put him up, but I already know the answer before I finish the thought.

He says the divorce is probably a good thing, because they’ve been arguing more and more, and he’s afraid it’s gonna get physical. Not that he would ever, ever, raise a hand against her, no matter how angry he got. He’s not that kind of guy. That’s why it’s better for him to just get out.

The kid is six-and-a-half, seven months now. He holds up his left forearm, and I see a long scar running lengthwise up the inside, from about halfway back up to his wrist.  He says he doesn’t know why he did that.

He abruptly strikes up a conversation with the kid sitting beside me.

How old are you?

Fourteen.

On the street, huh?

No, he lives with his mom and dad.

Still living with your folks, huh?

We get to Central, and he and the kid are among the many who get off. I catch the two of them walking together up Central toward The Frontier.

I feel... vaguely... uneasy...

3 Comments:

Anonymous Brenda said...

Your story really touched me this morning. I don't often forget how blessed my life is but this reminds me once again how wonderful I have it. Thank you once again bus boy for your insights.

7:31 AM  
Blogger Busboy said...

Thank you for your generous words, Brenda. The contrast you describe always reminds me of the song lyric, “There but for fortune go you or I.” But I’m not sure I have much insight into anything else here.

2:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a sad story. I hope he'll be okay.
BBBH

6:09 PM  

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