Giving to the Homeless
David Preston was sitting inside his tent on top of the barrier beside the interstate...in downtown Austin. His tent was perched on a ten foot shelf where the wall terraced. behind him was a sheer cliff going up about fifty foot, to the other side of him was another sheer cliff dropping down to the very busy interstate. To fall off his perch was to fall into traffic and get run over.
To get run over many, many, times in a short space of time. It was a very busy freeway. Such a person would be a bloody paste in no time.
That was what David liked about it. Solitude. there was no one else around, for certain values of ‘around’. He was camped dead in the center of a thriving metropolis of hundreds of thousands of people and yet he was as alone as if he was in a desert or a forest. Sometimes he imagined that the sound of traffic was the sound of a waterfall.
He imagined that he was camped beside a river near a waterfall.
“Hey buddy”...he thought he heard a voice. It was hard to hear over the sound of the traffic.
“HEY BUDDY...what’s a matter with you? Deaf?”...yup...he definitely heard that.
“What is it”? David replied. Was it the cops? The cops normally didn’t hassle him. He wasn’t bothering anyone. He didn’t leave a mess. He was out of sight...and if they did bother him they were risking their lives. A scuffle was freakin DANGEROUS.
“You want some stuff” asked the voice?
Oh no...though David. Another homeless wants my stuff.
“You can’t have my stuff” Yelled David. “I stole it fair and square...go get your own stuff”
“NO….that’s not what I said.” replied the unknown voice. “ I HAVE stuff. For you. For Free. Anything you want...You want some”?
Oh Hell thought David. A drug dealer. This was the last thing he needed.
“What” he yelled back...to stall. He had to stall. He had to delay them. He didn’t know what to do and he had to stall.
David noticed that a small, black object was pushed under his door flap, into his tent. “Put those on” yelled the voice.
David cautiously picked the object up. It was a pair of sunglasses. Really snazzy ones too. A pair of Oakley’s maybe? They even had ear plugs. He could listen to music with these!
David slowly, cautiously put the sunglasses on his head. He put the earbuds into his ears.
“Now we can talk” said the voice in his ear. “can you hear me ok?”
David jumped...but then settled down. “yes...I can hear you ok. What do you want?”
“I want to give you stuff” said the voice. “look at the picture”
“What pic……..tuuuuuuuuuuuuure”...David started to say when a vista opened before him. The sunglasses were also video goggles. They were showing him things. They showed him riches beyond his most fabulous dreams.
“You want any of that stuff” said the voice “Do you want ALL of that stuff”.
“Well yeah” said David “who wouldn’t. How can I get that stuff”.
“Watch the picture” said the voice “it will explain all”.
In front of him was a small backpack. It looked like a nice one. Nicer than what many of the homeless he’d met had. It was better than the one he had. It might be made of leather. In the picture the backpack opened. On the bottom of the flap was a video touch screen.
“Pick anything you like from the menu” said a voice in the video. A menu popped up on the screen. It had a list of categories. There were categories for everything from Apples to Zirconium. The video showed someone’s hand swipe the menu so that it would scroll down to Camping Equipment. It tapped the box for Camping Equipment and more menu’s presented themselves.
The hand tapped the box for Tent. and a list of tents appeared. Every kind of tent imaginable. The hand selected something called The Ultimate Homeless Guy’s Smart Tent.
The box on the screen hummed for a minute then a green light came on. The hand opened the door and removed a small black bundle. The handset the bundle on the floor and pressed a button on it’s side marked “inflate”
The tent inflated. It was lots larger than David’s tent. The view moved to show the inside of the tent. It was fabulous. There was a big recliner type chair and a huge wall screen TV, it had three doors besides the ..one said kitchen, the other said bathroom. The view moved into first one, then the other, that’s exactly what they were. The view showed the hand operating something that looked like a microwave oven. A label floated in the air that said Food Maker. The hand operated the menu screen and in no time a hot meal was sitting on the kitchen table.
“That kind of stuff” said the voice in the ear piece “Do you want one of those? It’s called Santa Clauses Backpack. Do you want one?
David was stunned. He had no idea such a thing existed. Of course he wanted one. That was a stupid question.
“ye...yessss” David almost croaked.
“Then here it is” said the voice...and sure enough. A backpack identical to that in the video goggles was pushed into the tent.
“It’s yours” said the voice. “ One thing though….”
Uh-oh. thought David. Here it comes. He probably wants me to do something terrible in return for that briefcase.
“Whaa….um….er...What? “ croaked David. He really, really wanted that backpack. Maybe he would do something terrible.
“We want you to make more of the Santa Clause Backpacks and give them away. It’s got a menu item.’ said the voice…
David was stunned. He just sat there. Could this be for real?
The voice went away.
David HAD, however, didn’t notice. He was busily scanning the menu’s like a child looking at a christmas catalog. What did he want FIRST?
Under an Overpass
Near the base of a FlyWay in Austin Tx., up among the beams, Blossom Cameron Herberts, woke up. This was the safest place she could find lately. She almost got raped the other day and she was terrified. She did NOT want it to happen again.
Running away from home hadn’t been such a great idea. True, her father abused her frequently. But she could steal her mother’s birth control pills, she’d had access to a bathroom and she’d had a bed….and they fed her.
She hadn’t realized that things can always get worse….and they had. She rolled over carefully on the top of the beam. She certainly didn’t want to fall. It was at least fourteen foot to the cement below the foot of the flyway and there might be people down there. Falling that far would hurt.
What was this, near her elbow, that she’d almost knocked over the side? A pair of sunglasses? She’d not noticed them there when she went to sleep. Of course it was hard to see and she was frightened and in a rush when she found this place. She’d scrambled up here like a monkey in the dark. Perhaps someone else had used it as a refuge and left them behind.
Pretty nice sunglasses. Nicer than anything she’d ever had….or seen….or heard of. It looked as if it was more than just ordinary sunglasses. The arms were awful thick...and it had switches...and little swing out things that looked like they went in your ears.
She found a good secure spot in a corner and snuggled up against the wall. She wasn’t likely to fall off from here, or be seen from below...and she put them on. She put the earbuds in her ears and touched a switch.
It played music. Pretty music...peaceful music. She sat there for the longest time. Drifting with the music.
At some point she noticed that there were pictures. It had started out very subtle with understated color...then the color had changed to patterns and the patterns had changed to pictures...and now she was watching a video.
It was an odd video. It showed a young girl dressed in rags, much like herself, find a backpack. It was a marvelous backpack. The girl could seemingly get anything she wanted from that back pack...even food. It seemed that the backpack had no limit to what it would provide for the girl.
The backpack looked remarkably like that back pack right beside her. She hadn’t noticed it before she put the glasses on.
Storage Container Life
cardboard boxes from nearby grocery stores and stacked them a few feet from the entrance, creating the illusion that her unit was packed floor to ceiling. Behind that secret cardboard wall, however, was a remarkable setup that included a bed, an ice chest, a small couch, a battery-powered lamp and a few posters taped to the corrugated sheet-metal walls.
Shelby closed and locked the door to his storage container. He’d just paid the rent. He was good for another month. While he was out he’d emptied his porta pottie and picked up another couple of gallons of water.
Life was good.
What was that on the table? Had someone been in his storage unit while he was gone? No one was supposed to be able to do that. Of course he wasn’t supposed to sleep in it either..so he wasn’t likely to complain. What was it?
It was a bulky pair of sunglasses...and there was a backpack on the floor that he hadn’t seen.