Discover more from Speak Up
Trying to Do Right: Part 2
Being homeless is not an easy thing. Being homeless with federal probation on top of it is unbearable.
Sometimes it’s hard to see the beauty around you when you’re living on the streets. Miami for all it’s ugliness is quite a beautiful city.
It is a homeless Mecca. The year-round mild weather lends itself to the throngs of homeless. I’ve met people on the streets of Miami from Michigan, Alaska, Maine, and other points south.
As I write this, I look out unto Biscayne Bay with the high-rise condominiums of Miami Beach two miles in the distance. It is a bright, sunny day with only puffy cotton ball clouds dotting the otherwise blue sky. I sit upon a concrete picnic table and watch the people walk their dogs. It make me feel sad as I had to give up my dog ten months ago.
I also see my fellow homeless, some sleeping off the nights drunk or on drugs, others sunning themselves. All of them in this particular park await the evening meal from the Miami Rescue Mission which is five blocks away.
I had to move away from the drawbridge. Early one morning, I was attacked by a couple of young thugs. They were trying to relieve me of my backpack. After a brief struggle and a particularly violent Aikido throw to one of my attackers, they retreated to lick their new wounds. My stress levels reached new heights after this unprovoked attack.
Soon I’d began noticing black eyes and other hallmarks of street fights upon other homeless men with skin like mine. It turns out that with a little indirect questioning, it seems that these individuals have been targeting based on race. What makes it worse is that I see these cowards everyday in the line for the shower. They now cut a wide swath around me, all while giving me the evil eye.
I moved from the drawbridge to the on-ramp of the MacArthur Causeway. A long concrete wall stretches the length of the Museum Park Metromover Station. A few other homeless sleep here. It is very loud as the hipster kids ride their crotch rocket motorcycles which all seem to be lacking mufflers. The Lamborghinis and Ferraris also blast onto the causeway toward the trendy nightclubs and swanky beach condos three miles away.
I’d slept here two nights until I was attacked again. This time, it was a mentally-ill male with a weighted club. His feet shuffling near me awoke me with a jolt. I swung my feet out at his legs. I caught him in the shin. He cried out while swinging the club at me wildly. I launched up unto my feet catching the wrongly-wielded club. A strike to the mound of his forearm made him drop the club with a shriek of pain.
I went animalistic, screaming primally, chasing him down the sidewalk with the club in my hands. The other homeless awoke watching me chase the man for blocks. He ran into an abandoned building site and picked up two large hunks of concrete. Coming to my senses, I ran to the nearby transit station and dialed the police.
When my attacker saw the groups of people all dialing 911 because he had started chucking the hunks of concrete wildly at me and the other people in the station, he ran away again. I told the 911 operator that I wasn’t waiting for the police and to let the people in the station tell them what happened.
Another night’s sleep ruined. Now my stress level was at the red line. I wandered up unto the Metromover Station sidewalk saw an empty bench and laid down again. Not sleeping, but fuming.
The next day, the other men who sleep under the Metromover platform (with the security guards’ tacit approval), Sam, the giant Virgin Islander and Carlos, the deaf Honduran, invited me with open arms to sleep under the platform. It was an offer that I couldn’t refuse. We have to vacate the area at or before 5 a.m. It is well lit and comes with security cameras.
We joke that it is our homeless condo.
We hope for the best. Carlos is getting an implant for his hearing, and Sam is getting his knee rebuilt soon. I hope they get off these streets.
They are the few shining lights in this city of beautiful ugliness.
Illustrations by Haley McCord