Homelessness

By Laurie L. Meador

Cut flowers lay on their sides in bunches, embalmed, wrapped in clear cellophane that is printed with computer generated concepts of Spring gaiety, on the cold, hard, gray concrete sidewalk in front of the red brick wall of the Arvada Public Library, marking the spot where a homeless man died in January, left there as a tribute to him. Another bunch of a dozen yellow roses bleeding pink on the edges in rows of three, four, five, lies inert next to a bottle of Kahlua and a jar of Kroger’s Original Roasted coffee.

Someone left a hamburger in a white take-out box for him, too late now. Was it his favorite food? What caused his death? There is a small, triangular wad of padded cloth in front of the other things. What was it used for? How did it help? There are shelters and meals, but how do you get there without a car?

Once, when I was driving home from work, I thought, “I should buy something to eat for the homeless people who congregate in the doorway of a vacant building near 8th Avenue and Speer Blvd.”, when, miraculously, as I was sitting in my car in front of them, I saw the driver of the car behind me pull a roasted chicken off of his front seat and hand it through the window to the man I thought of as “Caballo Blanco II”. (Caballo Blanco was an elite endurance runner who lived part of the year in his truck or a hut in Boulder and part of the year in the Copper Canyon in Mexico in a mud and stone hut he built himself. The indigenous people, who call themselves the “Ruramari”, which means the “Runners”, gave him that name because of his shock of white-blond hair.) He gazed down at it in awe and carried it reverently back to the others who were waiting in the blue tarp covered doorway. When I drove by a couple of weeks later, both the tarp and the people were gone.

While I was a student at University of Colorado at Denver, I would talk to one homeless man name Larry. He had a German Shepard mix dog and a guitar he carried around. He had long hair he pulled back and looked to be of Native American descent. One day I was walking to class and saw trays of small sandwiches near the dumpster. One had fallen on the concrete. Larry and his dog walked by. I grabbed the sandwich and hurried to ask Larry if his dog might want it. Before he could answer, the dog snatched it out of my hand and gulped it down. Larry said, “I guess that means ‘yes’.”

Another time, I was eating my lunch in a small park near 17th and Downing when a homeless man approached me and asked if I wanted to buy two RTD passes from him for $2.00. I told him I couldn’t use them. He said, “Ma’am, I’m just trying to raise money.” I looked into his bloodshot eyes. I felt as though I was looking into the eyes of Jesus. I gave him a couple of dollars and told him to keep the passes.