Walking down the street, I see Joe and La Toya. How they are surviving this freezing cold, I do not know. I am getting really tired of having to rouse them. We in many ways are dependent on relationships with our neighbors. They don’t seem to understand that when neighbors see our main doorway blocked by sleeping people by midmorning it creates a sense of neglect, of disrespect.When I have to bring early morning visitors in the side door, it's crazy. We are one of very few churches left in the neighborhood that still allows people to be on the steps. But we too will have to end if I can’t get them to cooperate. I’ve tried hooking them up with Godard, WSSFSH, Interfaith Assembly…nothing seems to work.
When I turn the corner and see Sean, I feel angry. For him putting himself at risk. And I guess me, too.
Sean, what’s going on, why are you here?
I had an accident man, couldn’t get it together.
You can’t be outside in this weather on the street like this, you’ll die…
A man sees me talking to Sean and approaches. I saw him here this morning, I called the police, I called the fire department…
Did they come?
After a long time, yes, but he’s still here…
While we are having this conversation, Sean is saying louder and louder, Father Bob, Father Bob…
I’ve got this, OK? I say to the concerned citizen.
Bob, get me a coffee, OK? Then we’ll talk.
I go get the coffee. Sean, this is no good, you know you can’t be here like this…
Nah, you know it’ s been a long time since I been here like this. Had an unexpected accident. Man says he gonna get me a change a clothes be here soon.
Maybe like an hour.
OK, I’ll give you an hour.
Inside, there two young women waiting. Colleagues of Katherine. Looking for a performance space for a story theatre in their PhD discipline area. So I give them a whole tour and they wait for Danielle to settle details.
Martin comes in very concerned about Sean. I tell him I know and will go back out to check.
Hey Bob, will you get me another coffee?
NO. Sean you got to go.
Do you have a change of clothes?
No. You have to go.
OK. Be gone by 3.
I go back inside. I look up and it’s Eldridge. He ambles over in his rolling walk. Leaning in..
….father….I know…..never again…
I know man but you come in every week and say the same thing.
He raises his eyebrow, lifts up his hands, starts shuffling through papers.
What are you looking for?
No, you don’t need to prove you were in the hospital…no, and I don’t need to see your leg. I do look at his papers. Hospital in Chelsea. So you been to Chelsea. Jan Hus on the Eastside. You get around. What are you doing back up here?
The same palms up, wide eyed look…….Reachout…business….won’t lie…..no drugs… God don’t like lies. I don’t lie…..
It’s not about drugs, Eldridge, that’s not the point…
….need 10, need 10....
All I have is 8. All the best, Eldridge.
I look up. Danielle has been watching this. With our regulars, I try to keep it to 5 now, she says. She’s worked out performance dates for the two women.
What about Sean? She had hooked him up late yesterday afternoon and figured he’d be gone in an hour.
I just looked and he’s gone.
He can’t be there alone like that, I say. When it’s freezing like that, with his circulation, he’ll die…I wish I could get the precinct to respond.
She's quiet a minute. I ask her what's up.
She looks up, The building. All the unexpecteds. The everytime you think you're moving forward something else is filling apart. And the people...and...
I know. I know.