©2011, Donald J. Beaulieu
I stood there looking down at him and slowly, out of the depth of his mind he crawled. I could sense the painful tingling manifesting like darts throughout his forehead while his body just lumbered along as though it had no direction. And, therein lies the rub. I tried to look deep into his soul and to console him and reach out to him and touch his weary body. Or, better yet, say, “Hi, how are you?”. I hoped it would awaken his mind and perhaps he would look at me.
Poor fellow, not a single dream of his childhood had ever materialized -- no, not a single one. He tried to revive many of them as he stumbled into adulthood, but they became nightmares. “Whatever happens to those lost dreams and failed attempts,” he asked me. “Do they simply vaporize? Does the universe swallow them up in order to hand them out for someone else to use later? Why is it I do not fit anywhere?”
He stuttered a little as he spoke. He continued, “…my bone-chilled back, often, falls against an exterior wall and I slide down it until I’m sitting at its base. It gets cold and the dark starts to creep in, I’m always tired, so, so tired, but that does not matter. Soon, I will have to begin the night watch. Every night, there are thousands of us that roam ‘aimlessly’ and start the gait of the nightwalkers -- the procession of the living dead in search of life. We wander long and labor hard to simply survive. It’s all we can do to eke out an existence and we are not at all sure as to why we do it. Would death not be more valiant? Perhaps! But, there it is -- a blessing or a curse? No matter, one must live before they can die, even if it’s only for a moment.
The howling of the north wind nipped at my body like a hungry rat. But, it cannot matter because they are here and so am I. And, we are struck, head on, by a thousand pieces of frozen air that are navigated by the wind and it feels like the crisp, sharp points of death. And, yes, they pierce our bare skin and cut at our coats and clothing until they weave through the garments we wear. Yes, just like it weaves around these massive structures that surround me.
And, so it is that the thousands of us that roam ‘aimlessly’ start the gait of the nightwalkers, the procession of the living dead who search for that which nourishes. None of this is very complex, of course, but it is very lonely and hard. For us: every movement is important, every trash can be a potential feast, every box or piece of plastic a source of insulation, and every well clothed person a ray of hope. We wander, but, in reality, it is not ‘aimless.’ We search for a morsel of food or a drop to drink; perhaps, clothing that is warm or shoes without holes; a can fire or steam grate to touch us with heat. No, we do not walk ‘aimlessly’ or without purpose, but we walk with hope that each step will find a little joy of some kind.
But, now, the night is again turning into day. I need to return to the shadows so I’ll not be beaten by those who govern or cut to shreds by the tongues of the society who fears me. It amazes me how much power my appearance has. So it is that I must return to the shadows from which I came last night. Slowly, as I awoke and crawled out of the depth of my mind last night, so it is that I’ll lumber back into it. Yes, this morning I’ll drift back into the shadows, crawl back into my mind and hibernate for a while. We all do it -- by the millions, actually. We are the ones who find refuge in our thoughts, our fantasies, and our memories of what once was, or our addictions. It is there, in our minds, and with these ideas that we are trapped. They are locked in place and so it is that we will always be confined and defined by them. I want out you know, but I’m scared – will you help me or are you lost too? Are you too busy to care, too afraid you’ll become like me? Am I simply too lowly for you to bend down and say , ‘I care,’ or to touch my hand and help me – just a little.
Can you look deep into my soul, past my weary, bloodshot eyes and smelly clothing and try to console me – please? You there, will you reach out to me and touch my weary body? Or, better yet, say, ‘Hi, how are you’ as you reach out your hand and awaken my mind. Hopefully, I’ll be brave and look at you. Hopefully, I will not die of loneliness or a broken heart.”
He stood up; turned towards the massive buildings that surrounded his world and he disappeared. I thought about what he had told me and I had to also wonder, as he does, “Will I die of loneliness or a broken heart?” Yes, he will, because nobody told him about the angels that are hanging loose, waiting to help him. He did not know that miracles are real so he’ll never look for one. Not only that, he did not know that hope was real and that some angels are just people like you and me. Will this protagonist die of loneliness today? What did you choose to do? Yes, he and we have choices to make and lives to touch, but we must have faith, and hope, and work to help one another and then, perhaps, the evil they experience, as well as us, will not thrive.
Tomorrow I’ll return and bring some food, perhaps my long camel haired coat and few dollars. I'll try to warm his body, lessen the hunger, ease his loneliness and hopefully comfort his soul. But, mostly, I will hold out my hand, talk with him a while and pray with him and for him. I will pray that “we the people” remember to share “our bounty” which is what makes us and this nation of ours great.
This work is protected under the laws of U.S. and International copyrights.
No part of this work can be copied or reproduced in any form without
written consent of the author, ©2011.