The Adventure of Writing a Book, Part 4

Writing a book is fun because you meet some amazing people during your research. Because my heroine, Laura, must become homeless to escape a killer, I have been interfacing with homeless people for several months now.

It helps to talk with pastors and priests and the folks who run the charities that help the homeless, but it’s far better to talk with the homeless people themselves. Once you gain their trust, they will open up and tell you their amazing stories. Stories of survival and grit, stories of a world gone wrong, of getting injured, losing a job and then losing your house.

A homeless person will tell you what if feels like to sleep on a bench in a park and be told to move along by the police. You’ll learn that sometimes homeless people band together to rent a motel room for the night, so they can all take showers and get cleaned up. They’ll tell you what if feels like to not eat for several days, or to eat only occasionally at soup kitchens.

Gene and I came out of a restaurant one night carrying a couple of Styrofoam boxes with our leftovers. A couple of young men approached us and asked if they could have our left-overs. When we said “yes”, one of them started to weep, the other thanked me, then they both turned and hurried away with the precious food in their grasp.

Another time, a homeless couple I knew were standing on the sidewalk as I walked to my car. I had a container with left-over nachos and I said it wasn’t much, but they were welcome to it. The three of us walked over to a nearby bench to chat and as we talked, they tore into the soggy cold nachos with both hands, scooping up the food with their fingers as fast as they cold. The woman took the tiny container of left-over sour cream and held it to her face while she quickly licked out the remains. The greed and hunger and satisfaction on their faces nearly made me weep.

Many folks say the homeless are lazy or on drugs. That it’s their own fault they are destitute.

That is not always the case. I have heard terrible stories of childhood abuse, of accidents and injuries, of mental health problems, of simple bad luck.

After a few months of talking, really talking with these folks, I say, “There, but for the grace of God, go I”.

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