Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Story on My Street Tonight

There is much wind and finally a few drops of rain fall against the window. When I got up to close the window in my studio, I saw three people huddled on the ground. A round little woman dressed in pink was squatting against the wall. A man without a shirt was lying on the ground. A boy about 13 years old in a plaid shirt and jeans was partially sitting on the man and trying to hold him down. I watched for a few minutes and it became clear that the man was very drunk. So drunk that the boy could keep him from coming to his feet and although he was thrashing about he did not appear to be trying to hurt either the woman or the boy.

Did the woman and boy go get him from a bar? Has he spent all his week's pay on drink? Are they waiting for someone to come get them? How are they going to get him home? Are they homeless?

I looked out my other window and several of the neighbors are in the street looking at what was happening.

The sprinkle of rain became harder and the woman got up and covered the man with his shirt. When I looked out again a minute later the man was sitting up but swaying. He had his shirt on and the woman and boy were sitting on each side of him in the light rain. He is not stable enough to stand. The woman wiped a cheek. Rain or tears? The neighbors have put on jackets and are still in the street watching.

Oh, my heart is breaking for this boy who is trying to deal with the man. I'm sure it is his father. What should I do? Should I call the police? If they come and take the man away will it cause more problems for the family? Why are the neighbors just standing there?

I decide to go out and see what I can find out or if I can help. When I come downstairs from getting my jacket, the police have arrived and are putting the man in their truck. The neighbors gather around the woman and the boy and take them into their house. As I come back from walking Carly, some of those neighbors are coming back from the tienda and going into the house with drinks and snacks.

I am relieved because it seems that the neighbors are helping this woman and boy. But my mind is filled with stories of the life of the boy before tonight and what his life will be like in the future. 

I can't write these stories but they are there waiting for a writer to pluck them out of the air and put them down on paper. And yes, I am sure there were stories on the streets that I lived on in Houston but here the street is so much closer.  


  1. But you have written that story. With compassion.

  2. Steve, it is just one small chapter, actually only a page, from the story about this family.

  3. You shared it beautifully Billie. I feel your compassion and sadness for a child's lost innocence amid a chaotic alcoholic background. Sad, so sad.

    1. Barbara, you said it so well. That is exactly what it is, a child's lost innocence. I'm still thinking about the incident this morning.

  4. These stories are so sad because there's so little we can do. And I'm with you on the internal debate. Do the police make things better or worse? It's really debatable. And my heart goes out the little boy. I know far too many men who were beaten and abused as boys by their alcoholic fathers.

    Sad. It's a story that just keeps re-running.


    Kim G
    Zacatecas, ZAC