Simon's





Lew Goddard



 
© Copyright 2020 by Lew Goddard


Photo by Kayle Kaupanger on Unsplash


This story is the continuation of another story of the homeless, The Streets.  That was about the time when Simon was on the streets and was forced to survive. That story was just the beginning to his new and different life in the big city.

Simon has obviously made a name for himself after becoming the manager of what use to be Helpers and is now Simon’s.

His street savvy attracts the mostly destitute homeless. Simon’s has become a well-known and appreciated site for those who have nowhere to go. No one is turned aside as long as Simon is there.

The Governing Board decrees the regulations and policies to operate the site. Simon must adhere to the board determining how many times a homeless can expect sustenance when visiting Simon’s.

He has not made any differences in procedures and has been instrumental in obtaining excellent volunteers’ much to the Governing Board’s delight.

His acquaintances have increased several folds and he tries to help as many homeless as possible.

Of course, this story is fictional but it could be true.

Enjoy

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SIMON’S

Simon is not my name but because everyone in my job and on the streets call me Simon. So, it sticks.

There is never a dull day at Simon’s. The homeless are always here. Some old, some young, some dirty and some clean, some high and some drunk.

I have been the manager for two months and have never had such an interesting job with people. Today, we had thirty-four in for breakfast. I truly hope that we helped all of them.

Regret is not in my dictionary; I live for the homeless and tomorrow!

We need to replace some of the tables and chairs but the community will come through as it always does. Our building is still in good condition. It is warm, when the winter blasts but, there is no air conditioning for the warmer months. Do we really need that? Most of our clientele will spend the nights on the streets.

It is still some time till spring and we will likely have a snow storm at our door. Our door! How many times has it opened? How many faces has it seen? How many stories have developed over the years?

Thinking of spring, I have noted that Huey springs in quite often but never really needs help. He is a survivor but, I believe he will soon have to find some place to raise income and plan for the later years that an older person could not endure on the streets. He has never told me but, I’m pretty sure he is close to sixty. He carries himself well and no one bothers him and in fact, nothing seems to bother him. Occasionally, I have held a privileged peek at the real Huey. He is a leader on the streets.

This morning there was what I will call a scuffle, where two of the regulars voiced their disapproval with each other. All I need to do is get between them and issue a choice as to what they prefer to do. Do they wish to amend the friendship and quiet down or be banned from Simon’s for a week? See how easy it is?

Heather still volunteers and she is like my assistant manager. She has been here for up to ten years. She is allowed to select the time she volunteers and I’ve managed some gifts for her through our Board.

Her response has never changed when I do something to help her. Thanks, comes easy for her but she will often say, “I had a little more in mind,” and turn away. I haven’t, and don’t mean to find out what she really means but I’m sure that she enjoys my quiet curiosity and leaves it that way. Of course, I don’t dare research her age. She’d kill me.

I am searching for someone who would volunteer. To streamline, Heather will be appointed as Head Volunteer. She doesn’t know yet.

My sleeping bag, my back pack and my cut parka are hung up to record the experiences that I had when I was on the streets. Under each is a hand printed note regarding the circumstances for buying and those cold nights in sleeping. That has been one of my ideas because it starts a relationship with a homeless person off on the right foot.

Relationship’s vary of course. It depends on how the person p resents himself/herself. The first thing I notice is that faraway lost look in their eyes. The unsaid question, “Do you know what it’s like to love on the street?” Yes, I understand and I can appreciate all and any reasons why you are on the streets instead of a good job, a wife, a husband and in particular, a home to live in. Now I can’t become totally involved with their lives but it helps everyone whether on the streets or at home to have someone listen to you.

Mariska and Faith are still in touch. Every time I see that precious little girl whose life I saved; it almost makes me cry. It’s hard for me to respond to a call from Mariska to come for dinner. That time of day, it is usually quite busy at Simon’s. Once in a long while I will enjoy the assemblance of family life with my two girls. They do come into Simon’s fairly often but I really don’t like the idea of Faith imagining that it’s real life here.

I need a couple of volunteers.

Oh, Oh, I need a little more than volunteers just nw. A huge man, more than six feet tall, arms like battering rams, that I am not familiar with is raising a ruckus including tipping the table in front of him and two well placed blows on another man’s jaw.

I quickly move over and attempt to get between the combatants. I face the larger of the two and quietly ask him to settle down. Then I yell. His response is just to ask if I want a bit of what he delivered to the other guy. In those moments, I have to be instrumental in calming this man without any more hurt, especially me.

I try not to let him know that he is intimidating me. Her seems taller than six feet up close and obviously well-built when he stretches his T shirt tightly against his chest.

I cautiously move a bit closer and everyone is waiting to see what I’m going to do.

In a voice that I make assertive as possible, I address him, “Now before I injure you so that it will be a hospital visit for you, I suggest you stop right now and calm down.

For a terrible long thirty seconds, there is not a sound in Simon’s He and I are not quite eye to eye because he’s taller but there is certainly electricity in the air. He strokes his long black beard.

He turns a bit to one side and looks around at the other patrons, smiles and then turns back to me. Here it comes, I think. But the smile becomes larger and soon there is a loud booming laugh emanating from his soul.

For everyone to hear, he announces, “Now that’s what I call a man. I outweigh this gentleman by close to fifty pounds and you can all see how well muscled I am, and here, he is saying that I better behave or he’ll send me to the hospital.”

With that, he pushes the overturned table aside and comes over to me and extends his hand.

After being able to move said hand in his it seems that it will no longer perform as I am used to.

I reset the table and ask him to sit. “Now that we know each other, would you like a coffee and something to eat?”

He then resets his laugh and answers in the affirmative.

Hold on a bit while I see to your opponent.”

He had blood all over his chin and he said that he thought he had a loose tooth. Otherwise, he appeared to have recovered quite well.

Do you want to go to the hospital?” I asked him.

Nah, “he; lisped a bit. “I don’t need to go to any hospital.” He grabbed his jacket and left.

I hope he’ll be OK I thought and walked over to the big man.

My name is Simon and I welcome you with the assumption you are spending your life on the streets at present.”

The man replied, “My name is Elton and yes, I’m now on the streets. I got word that this place was a good hangout, so I came calling.”

How long?”

Just basically started. I found that I had to go somewhere because I no longer have a home.” He looked around and back to me. There was sadness in his eyes and he wasn’t sure what to do or say.

You have every right to your personal situation but if you ever wish to talk, I’m here.”

He nodded and looked down at his coffee cup.

I left him.

I had just managed to get an older man to volunteer. His name is Arthur, his friends called him Art, so I did too. This was the first time that he had come to work and before closing, he and I discussed his schedule and his duties.

The door was locked and all except a night light showing part of the interior.

It was after eleven but, once in a while I would telephone Mariska and chat for a few minutes.

Her answer was a pleasant hello. Mariska had recovered from the ordeal with her “male friend and we stayed in touch. She was an attractive young woman and she wasn’t far from my mind most of the time. At work, she was a teacher at a local elementary school and had a full shift. Faith was taken to a place where a nice widow looked after her like her own.

She sounded a bit excited, “Could you take time off tomorrow for dinner? She asked, I have a gift coupon to Ricky’s and wondered if you could go with me?”

That’s a very nice gesture and I would be honored to escort you.”

Do you mean that you could take time off?’ she asked incredulously.

Yep, what time?”

Six thirty OK with you? Meet me out in front.”

I look forward to it. See you tomorrow.”

Mariska was waiting outside in front of her apartment that was just a short walk from Simon’s. The jeans she was wearing probably couldn’t stretch any more. I couldn’t help but admire her. Her hand was warm and soft when I reached for her. The look told me that she was indeed, excited about this tryst.

Ricky’s was about five blocks and since it was near seven, it was not crowded. It was nearing spring and walking was a pleasant interlude. We took a booth furthest from the entrance and smiled at each other like two teenagers until the waitress came to our table. We ordered.

I don’t like deciding over whether this is a date or not, so I proclaim it a date,” as she responded with a tremendous smile.

You aren’t embarrassed that I arranged this “date” and paying for it?”

No, I am absolutely pleased that you asked me,” I said.

In fact, I have often thought I should invite you out to dinner. You have always been important to me and I would like to do this more frequently”

I couldn’t stop looking at her. She was not really beautiful but she was an excellent Mother to her little girl, Faith. Her work ethic overflowed into the school and the pupils loved her. With such an indelible personality, she was beautiful to me.

We walked slowly back to her place after dinner and I held my arm around her waist. At the door, in front of God and everyone, we kissed.

When I returned to Simon’s I was pleased to see that Art was an able volunteer and the place was spotless. So, I sent him home.

About noon the next day two policemen walked in and came to the counter where I was doing my best to create a financial report to the board. It was the end of the month. The police would visit periodically, look around and sometimes escorted a man out the door.

What can I do for you gentlemen? I asked.

One of them showed me a police artist drawing of a man that they were looking to interview. The eight by ten looked very much like a dozen of my regulars and told them I really couldn’t identify the person in the picture. They said that he had a tattoo on hi left arm close to his elbow and two black tattoo dots by his right eye. They weren’t very good and he probably got them when he was in his last prison stint.

I will keep that picture on the desk for our volunteers and if we suspect someone here, we will call you.”

The other Constable who had been quiet since they arrived, walked closer to me, “I believe that we have met before someplace around here.”

I didn’t reply.

He then added, “You were on the streets a few months ago and another one
of your friends laid assault charges against you.”

I responded that I agreed
.
You disabled him after he pulled a knife on you, you called 911 but didn’t stick around for the first responders to arrive.”

Again, I nodded in the affirmative.

He held out his hand and said, “I’m glad you are no longer on the streets and obviously found a job here. I hope you like it.”

They left.

I seemed to be sweating after they left and the 45-caliber handgun, I had upstairs popped out of my memory banks. Maybe, I should get rid of it. In the back of my mind, I keep it for protection in this part of town. I’ll have to think about that. Huey had saved me a big problem when he “stole” it from my back pack and held it before the cops came to see me on the streets.

Elton, on one of his usual visits came in looking down in the mouth. He sat at what had become his regular table but he refused coffee. It seemed that he couldn’t sit still and his right leg was jumping off the floor and I knew he was quite agitated.

He asked me to sit and he said that it was one of his bad days. MY divorce has been final for a few months and my ex got the house, not long after that happened, I wrecked our new car.” He sat there looking down at the floor.

I waited.

Then, I had a good paying job but------.”

My foreman and I argued and it led to fisticuffs and I knocked him out. He charged me with assault, spent a few months behind the bars and paid a huge fine. Now I really have nothing.” His face told the story.

What kind of a job would you like?”

Oh, one where I’ll be outside all the time. I know how to run all kinds of heavy equipment and can move anywhere.:

I stood up and told him I would be right back and proceeded through the door that took me to the stairs to my apartment.

When, I came back I handed Elton a business card. It was from the company that I had worked for last year, Shredders Contractors Ltd., and the manager of the local branch.

Call this man and tell him you were talking to me. The snow should be just about gone so they can continue with the erection of the electrical towers.”

He accepted the card, looked at it and said he was going to see the man right now.

Heather certainly maintained her work load. “The windows need washing,” she echoed one day.

My response crossed my mind and just about said, “Well, go ahead,” but instead I told her that I would take care of it.

The members of the board didn’t often fill our door but at one of their visits, they offered an evaluation of me. That should have been expected and I guess it had crawled through my busy mind once or twice.

They decided that we should retire to my place on the second floor and I found suitable places for them to sit.

Each of the five members took a turn telling what they thought of me. They all laughed when one of them said that he had heard I was called Simon the Streak on the streets and by the homeless.

It was then that one of board who seemed to be the Chairman or CEO, or whatever he was called, announced that the board has decided to offer a raise in pay. One of the ladies acknowledged that it was not large but expenses were closely watched.

That offer was a surprise to me and of course, it appealed to my ego.

Shaking hands all around they trooped out the door with a hearty farewell.

I waited until I knew Mariska was home from school and I told her the good news. It hadn’t been often when I could share secrets with someone, but I know that she was happy for me.

Huey came in one day. I haven’t seen him very often lately.

After the hellos, he said, “Simon, I’m getting too old to live on the streets any more so have engaged a counselor and he has helped me to stop taking narcotics. It has been two and half weeks since I imbibed. Also, the booze has to be reduced. Once I’m’ clear, I am going to look for a job.”

He was treated to the best meal we could provide and everyone patted him on the back. He came to the streets eight years ago. I was very happy for him.

One morning a man dressed in a suit tie and everything came in. He asked me if the manilla envelope had my correct name on it. He further asked if I was still Simon.

He looked very official. He handed me the envelope and said, “You have been served.” Turned and left.

This was another happening that I had been thinking of, it was a subpoena to appear as a Prosecution witness in the trial of the guy who had attempted to drown little Faith.
I called Mariska at the school. When she came on, she sounded somewhat hysterical, “What happened? Did something happen to Faith?”

Whoa, whoa, no, she’s fine. I just received an order to appear as a witness in court about that guy I knocked down in your bathroom,” I rapidly related. “Did you get an invitation yet?”

No, is he going to come to the school?”

Well, he’s a process server so he might, I thought I should let you know.”

A few moments later, she sighed, “I guess I have that to look forward to when I get home.”

Yeah, for sure. Call me when you get home and I’ll come over and we’ll talk.”

That evening we discussed what we had to do and agreed that we would have a lawyer spread it out for us and then be ready for court. The trial was to be held on May 8th.

A few days later a familiar face appeared at the door and in walked Elton. He was carrying a huge box that obviously contained a TV.

He had a grin a yard wide. The thought struck me that I hadn’t seen him for quite some time. “Two months ago, you gave me a card, I got the job and I love it. I remembered that your old TV was what. a mere thirty-two inches and the color had faded. This has a 46-inch screen with built in high definition. I’ll replace the old one with it and say thanks for helping me.”

I certainly wasn’t going to turn his gift down. It created a solid feeling of human kindness and I hugged him.

He stayed for a while and talked about his job location and old times.

The next seven weeks went by and we were feeling somewhat confident that the trial would not be too difficult. I had contacted my friend the realtor, Delbert Foster, if he knew a good lawyer we could talk to about litigation and being a witness. He recommended one and we only needed one meeting.

The night before I went over to Mariska’s apartment and we encouraged each other that we would be good witnesses and the perpetrator would be punished.

This is the big day, I said to myself as I awoke earlier than I usually did. To be in court by nine, we had to catch a bus by eight. Mariska knew more about the bus schedules than I did. We arrived with fifteen minutes to spare.

The Prosecutor was in the hallway when we arrived and he came over to us and said quietly, “Just tell the truth, don’t offer any more than you have to as I said in the Discovery a couple of weeks ago.”

An orderly stayed with us and about ten fifteen Mariska was called.

I waited anxiously and continually checked the time. The door opened and Mariska came out and tried to smile at me. The orderly said, that we couldn’t converse until both of us had been a witness.

The orderly led me down the aisle to the witness stand. The usual identification and pledge were performed and the Prosecutor approached.

He said, “If I inadvertently call you Simon it’s because I know that name is the one you go by in the streets.”

I said, “That’s all right.”

I understand that you were called upon by the Mother of a little girl on December 9, 2019 to help her because she was afraid that a man in her apartment was expected to harm her baby. Is that correct?”

Yes.”

Please explain from the time that the Mother accosted you in the street, what happened in her apartment that led to this court hearing today.”

I heaved a sigh and began. Step by step I told the court how I had helped the Mother save her baby and what happened until, I collected my back pack and left.

The prosecutor asked question while I narrated the situation and then advised the court that he had no more questions.

I was turned over to the Defense Councilor.

The lawyer basically had me repeat again what happened and what I did. I thought I was doing quite well until he asked, “Thank you for your version of the incident but when you went into the bathroom, didn’t you realize that my client was actually attempting to get the little girl out of the water?”

That statement was ludicrous and I felt my anger rise.

I answered loudly, “No, he had his hand on her chest and was holding her down. Her eyes were wide open and there were air bubbles coming from her mouth

Very well, the lawyer said, that’s your opinion. “No further questions.”

It was near dinner time by the time I was released from court and walked out into Mariska’s; arms

We decided to celebrate our our ordeal that was now over, we caught the bus and stopped at Ricky’s for dinner. It was still quite light when we reached her apartment.

She unlocked the entrance door and I accompanied her into the vestibule. I took her in my arms and she kissed me passionately and continued to hang on.

Would you stay with me tonight, Simon?”

EPILOGUE

The man who attempted to drown Faith was charged with attempted murder and an appropriate long sentence in prison.

Mariska and Simon became closer and developed plans to marry and where they would live.

Simon was not comfortable to have Faith live with him and her mother in the apartment provided above Simon’s.

They decided to see what nature would bring and face it together.


This story is fictitious and is not meant to represent any person or location. No research or interviews were conducted of actual homeless people.
 The story is based totally on my perception of what happens and what a person would have to do to survive on the street as a homeless person.  This is my perception of how I would survive.
Enjoy this story?  Read the first part  Click here for The Streets.



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