Flat on My Back at the Rail Platform

Journal Enty: April 28, 2011

I took the freeway to save time.  The call was simply; "A guy passed out at the rail platform, 44th Street and Washington.  Any unit to assist?" 

"Phoenix PD to OCC, I can respond."  (the OCC is the control center for rail operations.  This was not a dispatch call but rather an administrative call for assistance.)

I had to pull my car up a few hundred yards past the east end of the platform to stay out of traffic.  Kept my lights on, engine running.  A far distance, little farther than I would like but I could keep an eye on it. 

I found him at the far east end.  Slumped over in a half sitting, half prone position.  His head was wrapped with what looked to be a blue pillow case, another around his waist.  He had on a button up shirt, striped with red and white.  Something any business type would wear.  His jeans were tied with a belt, the holes worn out or not enough to cinch tight around his trim waist. 

I kicked at his feet lightly at first then a bit harder when just for a moment I thought he may not actually be breathing.  My brief confirmation that he may quite possibly have left the living, was a fly that sat stationary on his lower lip.  Something about flies, they send a message of end of life, dead things and non-movement.  When things cease to move, flies find safe refuge.
 I have to admit, I had a little adrenalin rush for just a moment.

He finally stirred a few good kicks to his feet later.  His eyes peeled open, light brown and seriously captivating.  Not eyes I would predict for a person of his condition but rather beautiful. 

A stash of folded papers peeked from his shirt pocket and every first form of business for police work is to "know who I am talking to." 

I searched through worn citations from Tempe, court orders, plea agreements and found one I could read with his name.  Theodore, maybe Ted as I would imagine but I referred to him as Theodore. 

"Theodore! Hey partner.  Wake up.  You can't lay here.  Wanna go to LARC? (a rehab clinic for drunkards.)

He mumble something or other. 

He was directly in the sun, heating up with the day and that happens quickly in Arizona. As I filtered through the paperwork and cleared for a wagon to pick him up, I was approached by several rail passengers.

This particular platform is one visited regularly by riders to and from the airport.  Phoenix Sky Harbor is a short few miles from downtown.  One of the few cities with an airport so close to downtown and on this particular day at this particular time, I became not only the "rounder up of homeless intoxicated citizens but also the information police." 

"Is this the way to Phoenix?"  One particularly nicely dressed couple asked.  They appeared to be fresh off of a flight. 

"We have some time to kill before we head to our hotel and we were looking for the Body Works Event at the Museum" 

"Absolutely.  I would love to go to that myself."  I turned from my friend Theodore who reclined silently snoozing in the heat, while I addressed new visitors to the area on the whereabouts to the science museum.

"Yes, take the train and get off at 3rd Street and Washington.  You will then need to double back east to around 7th Street to the museum." 

Another group of about 5 women stood patiently waiting their turn.

"Is this the way to Central and Indian School?"  One woman asked in a bedazzeled denim jacket. 

"Yes, it is and the next train should be here in about 10 minutes."

"See, I told you!!" One of the women announced to the group.  They all had a good chuckle over that and Theodore shifted his weight at the disturbance. 

I had about another 10 minutes to wait for the wagon.  One of my sergeants showed up to keep me company and Theodore decided at that time to relieve himself.  A small circle in the front of his well worn jeans expanded into a flowing pattern of dark blue reaching from front to back.  He asked at that point as he stirred if he could have a seat on the chair at the platform.  I will never sit on another platform seat again..

He proceded to blow excrement from his nose, spit and make any number of gutteral sounds until I finally advised him to save it until he was picked up.  He was polite, repeated he was not violent continually and all in all was cooperative.  His one profound statement as he cleared a brief window of haze and re-entered the land of the living ;

"I've been homeless for 12 years." 

He was a 46 year old male, homeless for 12 years and only recently, so he says, began drinking. 

The wagon showed up shortly after. 

"Teddy!  Hey, how you doin'?"  One of the employees said.  She was a very petite woman, short blonde bob cut who recognized Theodore immediately. 

"Regular, huh?" I said. 

"Oh, yea." 

Teddy had been saying some good things about the people at the drunk tank, how well they took care of him, gave him clothes and so on. 

Too bad Teddy could not accept the one thing that would really help him.


I have my draft done.  Working on revision #2 and will be dropping it off at the post office on Monday.


Dawn Brazil said...

That's deep Adrian. Its a sad fact that a lot, not all, but a lot of homeless people are in that position because they refuse to accept the help. Sad story.

Adrian said...

Very true Dawn. A terrible waste and only brief moments when opportunity presents itself, just begging for you to walk through.

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I figured things out late in life, like what I wanted to do, getting married (age 30), having kids, (36 and 38) and changing degrees about 3 times. Now as a cop of 19 years and in my mid 40's, I am finally figuring out some things. My first career or dream of becoming a writer is playing more in my head and daily life than ever. I love it. Thus the blog. It is all mine. I also love being a mother. They are all ours. I love my husband and as a cop, wow.. have I seen some things. Street degree. I got it. Let us learn together. I also am on She Writes.