The Homeful are Crazy

January 5th, 2009

I used to sleep at The Station when it rained. On a clear night I could sleep out in the open. I slept near The Monument, but not in it. I didn’t want to upset the families of those who went. I didn’t go. But those who went did not object to me being there. I asked. They didn’t say nothin’.1

Some of those nights were glorious. Orion the Hunter, visible to almost all of the world’s people2, stood guard over me. I was outside for the largest full moon of the year. My favorite is when there are a few clouds – not enough to bring rain – just enough to the dance over moon. But rain means having better gear. I was working on a bivy, but I was also in a race to keep the loft of my sleeping bag ahead of the dropping temperature as winter set in. I never did get a good seal.3 Hence, the Station.

Why not just stay all the time at the Station? The Homeful.

They’re waiting for trains until midnight.4

You can sit on a bench with them, if you are careful to blend in. If you lie down, the jig is up. The security guard will come and ‘ask’ you to leave. At midnight, after the last departure, the guard closes The Terminal. You have to go outside. One night a drunk refused to move. They dragged him by his hands out on the platform. The EMT’s came. They offered him a cigarette if he would get up and walk away. No deal. They strapped him in and rolled him off.

There’s a bunch that sleep on The Portico. I parted company with them my first night. By the grace of The Fellowship, I have been granted a reprieve from the grip of The Demon. Most of my colleagues on the Portico have not. The Fellowship does tell me to hold out my hand, but it also cautions me to arrange for good odds – two to one or better. Most of my colleagues on the Portico have a thick layer of grease on their clothes, they often smell bad. Many are missing teeth. They sleep next to one another on the Portico totally covered5 in thick wool blankets like mummies. In the morning Maintenance hoses down The Portico.

I preferred staying on the platform with Madonna and Child, the Black Buddha, and the Walker Lady. You could see the custodian polishing the floor in The Terminal. For some reason some people were allowed to stay inside. We weren’t. Between 3:30 AM and 4:00 AM, the guard would let us back in to The Terminal. He would even let us lie down on the benches. But shortly after 5 AM, as we lay napping came a not so gentle rapping in our boudoir. The guard asks us to sit up. “People get ready. There’s a train a-coming.” Not for us. The Homeful coming to work. Sometimes we’d get to sleep later, but never after the ticket office opened.

I never really got the knack of sleeping sitting up. I brought my sleeping back and sacked out on the platform. No need to interrupt my sleep moving inside to the benches. But for a while, I was careful to have my bag rolled before the first train came in. Then I’d go inside and try to get an hour or two sitting up.

Sometimes the weather was clear or only slightly rainy, but I needed to be up early. The Monument was great for sleeping late, but I had no alarm clock. So I found a little park next to The Station. It was also a good way to test my latest advance on my gear. If I got in trouble, and a couple of times I did. I only had to make it until 3:30 or so and I could go inside. I’d be tired, but alive.

I usually got up on my own, but there were a few occassions where one of The Homeful came through the park and shined a flashlight in our eyes. “Alright, alright.” Mild annoyance. Bilaterally.

That was until the night the temperature got down to 18 degrees. It was a good night’s sleep. I had gotten my Dacron filled bag within-a-bag sealed well enough to be comfortable right through the night. I had my head covered, which you can do with synthetics5. But in the morning, a voice next to my ear, “Are You alright?” It was The Guy, but apologetic this time. “It’s okay. You can stay there. I just wanted to be sure you were alright.”

The Homeful are crazy.

My last night outside6was rainy. Light at first so I camped next to the dispatcher shed. Minimal cover and still able to see the sky. A figure appeared in a bomber jacket and pilot cap. Short slight stocky. Sturdy boots. Moving, moving, back and forth. A woman? Yes. She didn’t have enough on, but at that termperature she would have had to look like the Pillsbury Doughboy to be warm. The Black Buddha and the Walker Lady knew how to back up to the glass and catch the heat leaking out of the terminal, but they also had blankets. She was moving to stay warm, but somehow I felt live anger coming out of her. It scared me a little. She probably could kick my ass, but I would need better circumstances to enjoy it.

As the rain picked up, I started to get wet. I heard a voice – female, unhesitant but almost sweet. “Are you getting wet?” It was her.

“Yeh.”

“Just scoot around to the front.” I didn’t want to at first. A guy thing. But, she was right. Some women at least, are caregivers, even when homeless. How had the Aviatrix lost her course?

A short time later, I heard a clatter above my head. Apparently, Madonna and Child had been getting wet on the other side of the shed. They didn’t want to be any more visible than necessary either.

I woke up. Madonna and Child were gone. Inside no doubt. The sky had cleared so I scooted back around to the side of the shed. The Homeful would be coming. I awoke again. Hoardes of Homeful streaming by. Apparently, I had slept through a couple of trains. There was a bag by my feet. It was from Cosi in the food court. The Homeful bought me a muffin. As I rolled my bag up I came across a 5 dollar bill. The Homeful went to some trouble to conceal it so it wouldn’t be stolen. It was December 16. Banners for the Nutcracker everywhere. And the model trains inside.

The Homeful are crazy.

1I see the ones who came back at The Centera. Most of them like my ‘peace bling’ – the plastic gold peace necklace that was given to me at the Invasion+5 rally.

2He’s visible from 80% of the Earth’s surface, all but the polar regions where there are very few people.

3But I did learn from the internetb that cotton can kill. It loses all of it’s thermal insulating power when wet. Since it holds a lot of water so they are hard to dry in the rain. Wool is also hard to dry, but it stays warm even when wet. Synthetics stay warm and hold very little water. You can dry polypropylene socks by rubbing them between your hands.

4 At that hour, I guess most of them are going home.

5You can cover your head with wool or synthetics and make the night. If you cover your head with cotton, condensation from your breath will make you cold in a few hours.

6For God knows how long.

aThe Center used to be The Shelter, but they changed the name. Good thing. I need The Shelter for own unhome.

bThe days of ‘I’nternet are over. You homeful with always-on internet have no excuse.

2 Responses to “The Homeful are Crazy”

  1. Direction Home… » Blog Archive » I found her. Says:

    […] jacket. i hadn’t seen it in daylight before, but it was the same jacket – Air Force. She was The Aviatrix. She had a round face – full and pink – oddly cheubic. She wasn’t pacing as before. She was […]

  2. Direction Home… » Blog Archive » i found her again. Says:

    […] to catch up on it. The Aviatrix was at St Francis House. She had some sleeping gear which had not when i met her. It was light appropriate to the weather. Somehow she survived the cold. The bag holding her gear […]

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