The cold didn’t let him sleep; it was a long night in the streets. Some conditions refuse to leave… the cold stuck to his body for hours. Logan felt it deeply in his bones, there wasn’t much to do. He was 52; nonetheless, he looked older, much older.
“Some people drink life like drinking a water jet. I guess I need to drink life a drop at a time”, Logan reflected.
Logan picked up the 2 boxes he uses as a bed. Then he put them behind an old gate of a forgotten closed factory. He chose that spot to sleep over because he completely identified himself with that building’s conditions. A temporary bed became his home.
“Here I go! Another day!”
Yesterday cheated Logan by not providing enough food. That’s why he’s doubly hungry that inhospitable dawn. His stomach growled very loud, as a protest.
“I know dude, take it easy!” Logan said while rubbing his belly. “Come on! We’ve had this discussion for 12 years”, the homeless old man complained. “It’s cold, dude, it really is”, he added.
Logan rubbed his arms to avoid the cold. Then, he left the alley and stopped at the dead-end sign. Not many people walking yet.
“Where to start?”, he thought.
When nothing makes a difference, whatever comes is acceptable.
“As Ralph Waldo Emerson said: it’s not the destination, it’s the journey”, Logan concluded.
Logan wandered around for a while, looking for trash bins. And he found one in a lonely alley. Logan knew the art of diving into the garbage, as the best scuba diver does.
“I gotcha! You’re mine, all mine”, he talked to a bitten fatty beefsteak in his left hand.
Because Logan was trash-bin diving, he didn’t notice 3 boys and 2 girls had arrived.
“Hey, you, old man! Don’t you respect the Street Law?”, one kid said.
“Yeah man, you know, respect territories; it’s the basics if you want to survive. An old man like you should know it by now”, a girl added.
Another boy grabbed Logan’s coat collar and pulled him down. The 5 of them kicked the old man a couple of times.
“That’s a warning.”
“Yeah… a reminder.”
“Get out of here or you’ll get to know us much better.”
“Territories, old man, territories, don’t become a savage, you know…”
“All right, all right. I’m leaving now”, Logan clarified.
Now Logan’s forehead was bleeding, and he was limping slightly. Streets can be merciless. He understood it was his fault, he realized he committed a huge mistake, an error that must not be repeated. Sometimes life gives a single opportunity, moreover, you are not supposed to challenge your luck. Streets teach you every lesson once and for all, with no rehearsal, every homeless knows that.
Logan kept walking, no specific direction, destiny is just around any corner. Fate is a pair of dice moving around without any control. Why rushing?! After a couple of blocks, he stopped, looked to the right, looked to the left; he noticed rich people everywhere (for Logan, people who had new clothes every now and then, different kinds of food at their table, and a roof above their heads, were rich).
Then he thought, “I’m a beggar”, and came back to his sleeping alley to pick up a piece of cardboard with the following sentence written down: A BEGGAR IS AN INDIVIDUAL WHO USED TO BE A PERSON LIKE YOU. Logan went to his favorite corner, sat down on the sidewalk, took the sign with one hand, placed it on his lap, and extended his other hand asking for money. Finally, he wore his best smile and waited…
Most passers-by didn’t even notice Logan. Some of them looked at him with contempt, without noticing his sign. A few of them did read his sign but felt insulted.
Hours passed by, too. His stomach remonstrated again… more angrily this time.
“I guess there are some truths that shouldn’t be said ´cause nobody wants to hear them”, Logan reflected. On the contrary, he didn’t know the truth, a much simpler one: nobody cares.
Again, his tyrannical stomach ordered him to do something about it.
“Sorry, dude, no money for food”, Logan excused himself while getting up, his leg still hurt. “But you’re right. I must do something. Come on, Logan! You’re better than this. Think of something.”
An empty stomach can neutralize a brain, it can numb a mind. No good ideas today!
“Let’s keep moving, dude.”
Then some people saw Logan because he was talking to himself, and that was weird because only the insane do this kind of thing, and they are dangerous. What regular people don’t know is that the homeless are social beings too and they cannot (and must not) be silent all the time, there’s also a need for them to express themselves, to talk to others. Therefore, if passers-by don’t make time to talk to the homeless, the only thing they can do is talking back to their own selves… What can they do if nobody considers them living beings, equals, to chat to? Hence, they’ve become souls with no redemption, nobody wants to save them, to improve their situation. It’s a simple task, many times, it just takes a bath, a meal, and a job offer. In addition, most of the homeless have great stories to share.
It was the afternoon when Logan found another trash can. “No luck today, just paper, unfortunately, its color isn’t green. Green ones… Now I remember, I saw it on Smoking Street, we need to head there.”
HELP WANTED, a sign on the window. “The job was taken, sorry.” That was what the clerk said but the sign was not removed from the window after Logan applied for the job.
“I told you, dude, not a lucky day, the job was not for us”, Logan told his stomach.
The old man kept wandering aimlessly and wondering, always wandering and wondering.
The sunset said good-bye and dusk showed its face. His guts rang out loud from hunger once again. Without knowing how Logan hit another dead end. There were 4 trash cans. He stared at them. He felt happy for the first time that day. Nothing in the first can, nothing eatable in the second and third ones. A miracle! There was some meat inside the fourth trash can. However, happiness needed to wait a little longer because it was rotten, not even a hungry homeless would have eaten it. Desperation finally conquered Logan’s face and he felt it, so he prayed Heavens for his face not to become Despair’s territory all along, the same way gangs take over a portion of a city with the allowance of those streets’ inhabitants.
The 4 trash cans belonged to a restaurant. The scene was watched through a window by the owner of the restaurant. Even though he was a businessperson who knew it was not a good idea, for a restaurant, to feed the homeless, he saw something in Logan that made him remember some hard times in his childhood when things were uncertain. That scene, from a restaurant window, was the reason this generous man ordered his head chef to give the desperate man some food.
The restaurant backdoor was opened, so Logan knew it was time for him to leave the place, he wasn’t stupid, he didn’t want to be beaten again.
“Wait. Old man, wait. Here you have some food”, the head chef said while holding a plastic bag.
Logan said nothing, he learned that lesson too (say nothing in front of regular people).
“Take it. Eat it somewhere else”, the chef ordered.
“Thank you, sir.”
The head chef shut the backdoor. Logan went to the end of the alley to hide, he sat down. He knew nobody wanted to see a homeless person -homeless people uglify the city.
Logan was about to have the first bite when 2 kids appeared. They were also looking for food. As soon as they saw Logan, they backed off (the youngsters were told to respect others’ territory). Logan’s stomach looked at the plastic bag, then Logan’s heart looked at the 2 boys.
The kids looked at each other, they genuinely thought they were in trouble.
“Here. Take it”, Logan offered the package, his meal.
The boys approached like mice toward cheese in a mousetrap. One of them grabbed the bag and both brothers ran away.
Logan’s stomach was suffering and wanted to protest for the last time, but it kept silent instead. Logan got up and started to walk, wandering and wondering.
“Tomorrow, dude, I swear, we’re going to be lucky tomorrow. It’s time to go to sleep. Streets can be dangerous at night, you know”, the old homeless told his stomach, his only friend.
Logan came to the corner, turned left, walked a bit more, turned left again, and passed by the restaurant front door. An elegant gentleman was waiting for him. The old man didn’t notice the restaurant owner standing there, he was deep in thought.
“Friend, I saw what you did”, the elegant man said. But Logan continued walking, he didn’t understand the gentleman was talking to him, nobody’s called him a “friend” for a long time.
The restaurant owner approached. “Mister, here you have, some extra food.”
Logan wasn’t able to understand why that kind gentleman was standing before him, offering another food package. “I beg your pardon, sir.”
“You have a big heart, my friend. I saw what you did. I want you to come tomorrow morning, at 8:00 o’clock. Can you make it?”, the businessperson explained.
“Thank you, sir. I’ll be here at 8:00 a.m. sharp, I promise.”
Logan’s stomach reminded him politely it was time to eat… “I guess it wasn’t another day.”