Hope Springs Eternal

December 1, 2019 at 3:45 pm (Cosmic Encounters, Cussed Dumbers, That's not funny...)

Lost Hope?

After fifteen years on the Avenue, I have met a lot of people from all walks of life. Some affluent, others flush with personality, some are rich in earthy aromas. Everyone brings something to the store, even if it’s just irritation and anguish.

It can’t be easy being a fifty-year-old woman living on the streets, yet I know several. You’ve met Crazy Catwoman Carol, Carol Jr, and some of the others; allow me to introduce Hope.

Hope has been around downtown for a couple years now. She’s a self-proclaimed hippie chick, with colorful clothes and long flowing hair that’s still blonde in spots, but these days mostly steel-colored. She’s fit, attractive, and almost always in a perky mood. I imagine her as Janis Joplin, played by Lauren Bacall.

A few nights ago, Hope dropped by to return some empties. She cashed in a dollar’s worth, enough to buy a fountain soda, and kept the rest. (She knows we hate doing empties, so only does it in small amounts. And she’s patient, which goes a long way.) I gave her a couple books of matches, wished her a good night, and she took off. I noticed she’d forgotten a glove, so I set it aside. She’d be back. Probably in a few minutes.

A few minutes passed, and I heard sirens, then two police cruisers slowed outside, lighting up the night. Focusing their headlights on a doorway on the corner, an ambulance and fire truck soon followed.

I could see from the store doorway that they were working on someone camping under the eaves.This wasn’t someone in withdrawal looking for maintenance dope, this was serious. A cop was doing CPR as the paramedics rushed in.

Hmm… I wonder who…? The campers in that area tend to be 86ed criminal shitbirds, to generalize. It was slow, I could lock up and go take a look. Maybe one of our shitbirds can have his picture removed from the Wall of Shame? (Nope, we just write DEAD over his face.) Creepy, but I had to laugh or cry. I’ll decide which after I find out who it is.

There was no caution tape, or barricades. Pedestrians passed by, glancing and keeping going. I decided to move in for a look.

The cop had stopped CPR, and was cutting the clothing off the person’s chest. From my angle it looked like an old white dude that had been around. That thought was quickly dismissed, as the chest revealed was NOT that of an old man. In a less tense moment, I would be quite appreciative of the view.

The paramedics had hooked up a jackhammer-like gizmo to resume the CPR. This thing had the body bouncing up and down in a vigorous thrashing. I looked at the clothes, the guitar, the grey hair, and it hit me. Is that Hope?

Oh my dear god no.

I walked back to work, stunned. What the holy fuck? She’d been fine a few minutes ago, talking about smoking a bowl before bed, a little stressy but that wasn’t odd. Damn.

They took her to the hospital, presumably. An IV was hooked up, and oxygen was on. Hope for Hope!

At 2 AM, after smoking a joint in her honor, I got on the phone and called the hospitals. “Sorry, sir.” “Good luck.” They were compassionate, but how many times a week do they field calls from someone trying to find out if a loved one is alive or dead? The last ER person told me, “If the person died on the way to the hospital, there wouldn’t be a hospital record. Maybe you should call the police.”

I called non-emergency, the officer was also kind and sympathetic. He confirmed that there had been a police incident at that spot at that time, that someone was transported, but they could not release any medical information.

Well, shit. I smoked a little more of the Hope joint, and checked the mugshots for the day.

And there was Hope. WTF?

Sure enough, there’s my girl, not looking too bad all things considered. She’d been arrested at 10:45. What the holy fuck? Did they revive her, and because she didn’t have insurance they took her to the jail medical facility?

I couldn’t decide if that was the most humane, or the most horrible thing I’d ever heard.

So Hope was alive, booked into jail. Release date unknown. After a couple days the charges went away, and then it said she was released. Praise cheeses, let her be okay.

Last night, around 11 PM, when the bums all head for bed, a blur went past. I looked up from my newspaper, and it was Hope! “Hi Sweetheart!” I wanted to go grab her and hug her for a week, but I didn’t want her to need CPR again. “I’ve been worried about you.”

“Oh? You heard about all that bullshit?” She seemed awfully casual about it.

“I was there, I saw them take you away.”

“Really? I don’t remember YOU being there.”

“I’m not surprised,” I said. “You looked like you were a goner.”

“What are you talking about?”

“The ambulance, the paramedics… They revived you on the porch over there…?”

“That wasn’t me, honey. I got arrested by that cocksucker at Clean and Safe because he saw me smoking a bowl by Buffalo Wild Wings. I’m trespassed from that block.”

‘So no hospital, no OD, no heart attack, you’re okay? Man, I called the hospitals and the cops and everything.”

“Really?” She seemed touched. “You’re always so nice to me. Nah, I just have a beer at night, smoke some weed. I do speed so the freaks don’t take my shit, but I’m an adult out here. You know how that is.” She grabbed her things to leave.

“One more thing,” I said, walking close to her so the old guy playing scratch-offs couldn’t hear. “If I ever get a chance to see your chest again, I DON’T want it to be because a cop is cutting your clothes off.” I winked and gave her a gentle pat on the butt.

“I may be an old lady, but they still look pretty good, huh?” She was playing cool, but the plum-colored complexion behind the beaming grin belied her ice-maiden status.

As she sashayed out the door, I yelled behind her, “Just cause there’s snow on the roof, doesn’t mean there isn’t fire in the furnace!”

She’ll be back. And for that I am thankful.

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