It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve seen him knee deep in garbage, or huddled, shivering in a corner somewhere with water and dirt lapping at him. When he starts going through the bags of trash that overflow in nearly every block, and when he starts to hungrily wolf down whatever remnants of food have been thrown out, I always have to turn my head away. It’s too much to bear, knowing that while everywhere else, everyone gets to choose whether to eat or not or at least has some semblance of a ‘clean’ meal - this man has to dig through our filth to find something to put in his stomach.

    I have seen the reaction of people around him. More often than not, people give him a wide berth. He is not outwardly filthy, but he certainly does reek. He looks down while he half-stumbles and half-walks around. Often chased out of his favorite nooks, he’s constantly on the lookout for another spot to call his own. He doesn’t beg, he doesn’t ask for anything.

Mary Gonzalez's Facebook profile

    He is homeless, with special needs, and hardly anyone cares enough.


    Hungry…I’m very hungry. The sun is hot, and I can’t find a good place to sit in without being chased. I itch everywhere. I don’t remember the last time I bathed. I don’t remember a lot.

    Out here is pretty, and clean – better than where I was before. I know the before place was not nice. People were mean. It smelled like pee and poo where I had to live. When it rained, I just got wet. Everyone shooed me away, yelling that I was stinky.


    It’s dark already, and everyone is out in their finery, ready to paint the town red. We’re the Mecca of entertainment. There’s always something to do at night, if swimming and playing and working all day hasn’t worn us out. There’s always money to spend.

    In the stairwell between two large buildings, there’s a shadowy figure trying desperately to stay hidden. He has had a long, hard, hot day. He found a cracked bucket, and someone let him use their outdoor pipe. He’s taking a quick bath. Using cupped hands, he pours water over his head, over his face, and around his neck. He rinses under his arms, and then he hides deeper in the alleyway to wash properly.

    That night, he feels better than he has in a long time. Someone left a half-eaten burger on the step close to his sleeping spot. They also left a brown bottle half full of cold drink. He quickly drinks and eats, and prepares to lie down on the bags on the floor.

    He has just drifted off to sleep, dreaming dreams of full meals, shelter and care, when the rough hands pull him out of his bed. Police! He screams, terrified of the khaki and blue uniforms.


    I try to scream, but there is only one sound that I can make, “Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!” Policemen frighten me. They are mean, and they always beat me up. These ones look angry. They are holding the brown bottle and asking things. They speak too fast. I don’t understand – I just try to say I found it, but all I can say is “Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!” I can’t talk…I am too scared. My mouth isn’t working.

    The punches come fast. One of them kicks me. I start crying. People are so mean. Mean. Meanies. They are hurting me. I cry and scream.

    Nobody comes to help me.

    It’s just the homeless man.

    He probably did something bad.

    But I didn’t. I can’t talk when I am scared. I don’t know what I did. But the mean Police don’t care. They just punch and kick me. They stink like the parties I smell sometimes. Maybe I ate their burger and drank their drink.

    Finally, someone comes around the corner. The nice lady from the meat shop. She starts screaming and yelling. I hear “Stop.” I know that word. I try to say it too, “ssssss-tttttt…eeeeeeeeeeeee!”

    Everywhere hurts. I don’t like to hurt. I don’t want to hurt anymore. I close my eyes and then I feel no pain.

    Note: I was told that the young homeless man we see around town was once beaten by a pair of policemen who had been off duty, and obviously had been partying. He is young, black, and with special needs. He can speak, but he rarely ever does. It took the courage of a few women who work late at night selling food to start screaming ‘stop’ before the young man was left alone. I always wondered why it is that such injustices happen. But watching our pathetic court system should probably tell you everything.

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