Annie made an innocuous comment yesterday about street people, up in Eureka, and it prompted this piece of fiction.
The Homeless Guy
Hyacinth emerged from the whole foods store, with a basket of goodness, in more of a hurry than usual. She’d stopped on the way home from work, with the intention of just picking up some fresh greens and some coconut water, but her shopping cart had taken over, and dragged her around the store, as she willingly abandoned herself to the task.
Now she was behind schedule, the parking lot was a zoo, and she was trying to make her way through the quagmire to her car, when she became aware of the presence of street person, one of the many homeless guys who inhabited this area, because there seemed to be a more tolerant air about the premises. I say she became aware, because she smelled him before she saw him. Her immediate thought was that something had died; her next thought was that she wished it would die, and then she realized that the smell emanated from the person who had followed her across the causeway, but continued past her to a point about thirty feet away, where he stopped and fastened his eyes on her, as she fished about in her bag for her keys. What on earth did Homeless Guy want from her, besides the obvious?
What was normally an automatic action, became a prolonged moment of anxiety, as the elusive keys were nowhere to be found. And then when she hauled them out, and tried to insert the key in the lock, the whole ring had ended up on the ground. The more she tried to assume an attitude of indifference, the more she struggled. At one point she had returned the man’s gaze, just long enough to feel a sense of revulsion at what the image presented.
His face, aside from being dirty and unkempt, was bruised and covered with flecks of dried blood, one side already turning a mottled blend of black and purple, with his stubble of beard providing an appropriately unattractive backdrop for this feature. He had a crew cut, a dirty blond color, which was more dirty than blond. He wore a tight t-shirt, and a pair of loose, dirty Levis, that hung down his backside, in the fashion of the times. He was awfully young to be a homeless guy. The creepiest feature of all, was his eyes, which gave him the dazed appearance of being on medication.
The man was a walking mass of gnarly. And why did he seem so intent on staring at her? He was making Hyacinth seriously nervous, and she kept her cell phone at the ready, in case he should go off. Was that him muttering to himself? That is so creepy, she thought to herself. She felt his presence so strongly, she actually looked around to see if there was anyone else around who might be of assistance, should the need arise. With a sense of relief, she saw another man, one who was obviously a businessman of some sort, because he was wearing a suit, and was carrying a briefcase. He was surveying her, carefully checking in all directions, before continuing across the parking lot, still heading toward her.
As quickly as she could, she tried to cram the rest of her groceries into the trunk, so that she could return the cart to the nearest cart corral. Three things happened simultaneously, with blinding speed. The homeless man yelled and bolted straight for her; the business man had broken into a dead run, and was also coming straight at her, and she dropped her gallon glass jug of organic apple juice on the pavement with a thunderous crash.
She jumped back to try and avoid the splashing juice, while the two men converged on the spot, with the homeless man unexpectedly plowing headfirst into the business man’s stomach, knocking him to the ground, and with it the briefcase and another very curious object. It was a little snub-nosed hand gun, gleaming in the afternoon sunlight, that the businessman had withdrawn from his briefcase. The force of the head-butt had knocked the businessman back so forcefully, his head had been slammed hard enough into the asphalt, as to knock him unconscious.
Thunderstruck by this sudden turn of events, Hyacinth stared, open-mouthed at the homeless man. She saw that his eyes were blazing and alive, and that he was obviously not out to harm her. “I saw this guy do the same thing to another woman, and I didn’t do a damn thing to stop him.” He spoke softly. “This time I said, ‘No way.’”
With that he was gone as a siren wailed in the distance, rapidly getting closer as Hyacinth stood there, contemplating the old cliche about not judging a book by its cover. Maybe not, but the book could still be a best-seller. At least Hyacinth thought so.