There are those we deal with who are completely lost.  The people so badly damaged there is nothing left to do but usher them to safety for the night.

Two nights ago I was flagged down by security at the bus station.  A homeless man had been escorted out after causing a ruckus inside.  Security said the man was too intoxicated to care for himself and pointed him out as he shambled across the adjoining park.

After radioing in, I got out of my truck and walked after the man.  His gait was stilted and crooked, his grey sweatpants were soiled, and it had been weeks since he had seen a comb or a bath.  When he stopped at my request, his eyes were in a vacant stare somewhere above my head, his mouth agape and framed by a mucus encrusted moustache.  Dirt and grime were caked into every crease of his face, his clothing stiff with filth.  Curled into the crook of his arm was a cola bottle half filled with a clear liquid.  Clenched in his other fist was a balled up rag. 

When I asked him his name, he parroted my question, and then brought his fist up to his mouth and inhaled deeply of the fumes rising from the rag clenched within.  A thin line of drool dropped from his lip to string through his beard.  His eyes found mine, yet they didn’t.  He lowered his hand and poured the liquid from the bottle onto the rag, spilling some onto his sleeve.  The smell of the poison was enough to rock me back on my heels.

Paint thinner.

It has been years since I’ve interacted with someone in his condition, years since I’ve walked the beat in the Downtown Eastside. 

And yet nothing changes.

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7 Responses to "Lost"

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