Everyone appeared nervous this evening. Blue lights strobe irritatingly yet magically to the right of the plaza. One officer stood casually by the patrol car, leaning up against the open door. Whatever took place happened a while back.
“what’s goin’ on?”
“see that there spot o’ blood?” the young multi-colour haired youth pointed to me.
“and those over there.”
“another fight, huh?” “that’s par for the course up here”.
He smirked, a knowing sideways glance that’s all too familiar with those on the street.
It was a monday night and a group of christian youngsters get together and come to the war memorial plaza armed with wonderful food, donated clothes and smiling, accepting chatter. They have been doing this every monday for three years.
“there’s a lot o f people here tonight.”
“and a lot of new faces too.”
With the warmer weather temperatures, comes an influx of travellers, wayward kids, hungry, broke, lost folk…
Road weary. Rail tired. Backpacked. Grimed in dirt on clothes and skin.
“I just rolled in from Colorado Springs with my three brothers. Took us 19 days to get here.” He was wide-eyed, excitable and ready to tell his story.
” we broke records getting to Nashville.”
We spotted a familiar face from last summer, hiding around a corner. Carl looked furtively at the cop car and the gathered needy group like they were ready to wrestle him to the ground and haul him off to a forgotten cell somewhere in his mind.
He’s an amiable man with an interesting story. But tonight he looks like he just woke up in a ditch. His leather jacket and old jeans coated in dust and dirt. He’s eyes are wild and his beard unmanageably grown in.
We ask him if he’s okay. That we are worried about him. We tell him that we care.
He flashes an old smile, a mere hint of sanity passes before our very eyes and he acknowledges our concern.
“you care about me?”
He wanders off in a ramble of $10 Yamaha guitars found at garage sales and drum beats to the dance of a crazy soul…
I glanced slowly around at the gathered crowd.
We are all here for a variety of reasons.
Some are on their way back up. Some are desperately trying to get a foot hold, to stop themselves from sliding down the slippery slope any further.
Sadly, there are those that remain, content or none the wiser, barely existing in the human shells of their former selves…