Yesterday, after work, some guy was walking up the steps leading to the train station on my way through town. He was homeless, or thereabouts. He had no shoes or socks on, and his feet were cut, blistered and bloody. Pulling himself up the stairwell with the aid of the railing to his side, he sniffled and cried, seemingly in a great deal of pain and distress. Moving behind him, I eyed his feet and winced at the sight of them and wondered if he had perhaps been attacked. That maybe someone had robbed him of his shoes and then stamped on his toes for good measure. Or if it had instead been a pack of feral kids deciding to teach him a lesson for being a filthy animal of no importance to anyone. He seemed such a wretched creature, and I felt bad for him, but I didn’t offer him any assistance. I merely passed him in silence as he suffered and sobbed and continued on my way home as if such a thing was of no consequence. In the hours that followed, I was overcome by guilt. The next day, in the same location, I saw another homeless man placed in handcuffs by two police officers. The man was young. Younger than me. His clothes were dirty and he was resting on a sleeping bag. The officers had him face-down on the ground, with one in particular digging his knees into the guy’s back. I observed the scene from the corner of my eye and continued on my way as he protested in vain. It started to rain, and my cigarette went out. The hole in my stomach grew so big that I thought I was going to be sick. There were children playing in a playground, screaming at the sky for it to thunder, and my brain rattled in my skull like a coin in a jar tumbling down a spiral staircase.

X and I: A Novel and A Journal for Damned Lovers on Amazon UK

X and I: A Novel and A Journal for Damned Lovers on Amazon US

9 replies »

  1. What has the world done to us to make us feel helpless and ashamed at almost every corner on any busy city day? The other day, I saw two 12 or so year old and one was slapping the other violently about the head laughing, and I started to walk away, but turned back and wailed at the kid. “it’s just fun” was his response, but he stopped and the slapped-silly kid looked so relieved. I felt like a hero and ashamed that I almost walked by. I could have just as easily walked by, and I hate knowing that.

    • It’s terrible, and frightning, isn’t it? I’m glad you had it in you to stop and intervene. As you said, many wouldn’t have, because it’s easier that way. So often, we don’t want to get involved. Perhaps through fear, or apathy, or a mixture of different things. It’s a cold world where it’s easier to turn a blind eye than it is to reach out and help.

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