I have not seen Joe, the first ‘homeless’ man I studied
last Summer. He had been a frequent visitor to the
computer section of the library with his dog. I had
described him, once the chilly days had arrived and
the seasons had changed.
I still hope that Joe and his little buddy are either
out West or living in a warmer climate.
My second ‘homeless’ person, I have known about for
years. Within the last 7 years of living downtown in
Delaware, Ohio, I have seen him much more often.
The first year I moved into my little one bedroom apt.
I was always heading out to walk or hike, once the
I like to walk to the Delaware Community Market and
on my way, stop to see what wares and produce the
downtown Farmer’s Market holds. (Held on sidewalks
on the eastern side of Sandusky Street on Saturdays.)
Sometimes, I was going to the library or post office.
I was entranced with the novelty of not only being
“ecological” by not using my car, but also by seeing
all the people I had not noticed, while living behind
Buehler’s in the Lexington Glen development in what
is considered the ‘suburbs.’
Brian, I will call this second man. He seems like a
Brian (or a Patrick) since he has reddish hair and
scruffy thin face that sometimes sports a scraggly
red beard. I have looked into his blue or green eyes,
depending on what he wears. I think the time that
Brian was ‘most striking,’ and shocked the heck out
of my youngest daughter was while we were briskly
walking the Mingo Park trail from our apartment,
along the tributary of the Olentangy River.
We saw Brian straddling atop one of the walls of a
dumpster, five or six feet above us, gingerly
examining wine and beer bottles that the fishermen
or teens who may have ‘parked’ by the river to
‘make out’ had discarded.
He was putting the bottles along the rim of the
dumpster. His hair was standing straight on end,
like he had been electrocuted. It was stunningly
bright red in the early morning bright light!
Brian wore raggedy jeans and a brown non-descript
t-shirt on his upper body. He appears to be about
5′ 10″ when he is on the same level as I have been,
in other circumstances.
Brian waved at my blonde daughter and me, like he
recognized us. (Who knows? Maybe he had seen us
travel this walking path on other occasions.)
We actually slowed down to say,
We thought we would have beat all the Saturday
morning walking/running ‘traffic’ at 6 a.m.
Little did we expect that the one who has no
home, must wake up at the ‘crack of dawn,’ too!
Brian repeated the greeting, in a jovial tone, back
His gallivant nature made us think, as we resumed
our quicker pace, that he was reminiscent of a
pirate! His neck had had a red bandana tied in a
cavalier knot, on the side. His black leather boots
were somewhat like a cowboy, but with a tug of one’s
imagination, could have ‘passed’ as a pirate’s.
We thought his pocked face and grin with a few
teeth missing made him likable. His appearance was
similar to one who had been a ‘mate’ on a pirate
ship on the high seas.
As we turned the curve at Mingo to go along
the river path, we saw him turn a green wine
bottle upwards into the air, catching a small
drop or two. This morning ‘juice’ would hold
him until he walked to the recycling place on
London Road, where he may get a few dollars,
enough to get a meal or at least something to
drink. The wine bottle in the tilted fashion he
had held it, finished my thoughts of a pirate,
as if he were drinking a big swig of rum and
releasing a loud, “Arggh!”
In later Fall, 2013 I saw Brian sitting on a
bench in front of Walgreens, smoking a cigarette.
He wore a khaki colored poncho, his hair a wet
mess. His face looked more ruddy and seemed like
he had contracted a rash. Not to be funny, but
it crossed my mind, “hope Brian didn’t sleep
out in poison ivy as it gets really ‘ripe’ in
the late Indian Summer months. He asked me if
I had a dollar, I looked in my pocket where I
put change and had tucked one dollar in with
I told Brian, “I need my quarters for laundry
so here is my only cash.”
He nodded his head and his raspy voice asked
me a question that stopped me in my tracks.
He was holding out the dollar, as if ready
to pass it back to me.
I had not expected him to really listen,
care or respond except for a ‘thank you.’
But Brian asked me,
“Are you sure you have enough for laundry?
You could go across the street over there
and they have a change machine.”
I smiled and answered, “Oh yes, I would have
not offered it to you if I needed it!”
Brian had longer, more stringy hair, the last
time I spied him at McDonald’s with a hot cup
of coffee and a breakfast sandwich. He was
leaning forward, crouching over the Styrofoam
cup, as if putting his hands over a warm fire.
Either he made it to the recycling or a kind
soul had given him a donation to his ‘pantry.’
He had a much warmer coat than the poncho I had
seen him wearing in the Fall. It was a deep blue
with a red plaid cotton lining, which you could
see since it lined his fake fur edged hood. His
face looked chapped and still had the ‘angry’ red
blotches. These kind of look like they may have
an allergic reaction, but more than likely, are
due to his all weather living quarters.
There is one other ‘homeless’ person, a woman,
who will sometime be my subject to practice a
little of character development. I think observing
details, finding and adding quirks and mannerisms
helps round out a person. I have never taken a
‘writing course,’ although we all write our thoughts
down and analyze life, situations and people.
I hope to see the more buoyant and ‘pirate-like’
Brian again this summer…
on the shores of the Olentangy River.