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The Homeless Angel

The Homeless Angel

The Homeless Angel 2121 1414 Jason Stadtlander

The Homeless AngelThe cold, rainy day penetrated deeply into the body and soul of all Bostonians who endured it. Like so many others, the man walked, umbrella in hand through the courthouse plaza. His Aldo shoes traipsed through the small puddles that coalesced in the cracks of the pavers and mortar. He had his backpack which contained his laptop and a few journals slung over one shoulder, his coffee cup was in the other hand. Walking briskly he glanced over, didn’t want to, but glanced over nonetheless at the weathered woman that lay against the granite wall, covered in a recycled wool blanket, huddled against the cold. Something moved beneath the blanket and the man wondered if it were a dog or a child. Given the age of the woman, the man believed it to be a dog. For a moment as brief as a breath, he wondered how she had come to sleep along the building. Curious about how someone goes down a road that their entire life is now that of a homeless woman, simply existing. Beside her was a flask of some type in a paper bag. The man scoffed and rolled his eyes. It was clear to him that no one cared to help the woman or felt they could, and as sad as it was, it was reality.

No sooner had the thought entered his mind, it was gone again. The man’s phone vibrated on his hip, he holstered his coffee cup in a compartment on his backpack and pulled out his phone. It was a text message from his wife, “Next time you get the children ready for school, make sure you give them mittens. Be a father.”

Their relations had been tenuous for the past year and his blood boiled at the statement his wife had just texted. He began texting her back an appropriate response as he stepped onto a crosswalk at New Chardon Street. Halfway through “How dare you accu…” he heard a sliding sound and a sharp pain hit him in the left leg. Looking up at the bumper that had just collided with him, his iPhone went flying into the air as the rest of his body hit the hood of the car with full force. The entire event took place in a second, but all seemed to move in slow motion. The man saw his backpack flying into the air and falling toward the passenger side of the car as his own body rolled off the hood and in front of the car. He stared up at the pointed roof of the courthouse as it loomed over him and raindrops magnified like saucers, hit his eyeball. The man couldn’t breathe, couldn’t scream. He lost consciousness.


All was black.


His lungs were forced full of air and the air escaped. Again, his lungs forced themselves to expand and exhaled. His chest hurt with each forced breath. Vaguely he felt pressure on his chest as something pressed hard against him. A muffled woman’s voice yelled “Call 911!”

The man could hear another man say “I didn’t see him. Oh, God! Why didn’t he see me?”

More pressure on his chest, it hurt. All was still black. Fingers against his throat, he coughed and breathed a little on his own. “Shhh, stay still.” the woman said softly into his ear, “It’s okay, I’ve got you.”

The man felt his head lifted a little and something soft was laid beneath it. My coat? “Can you hear me? What is your name?” she asked.

“Alan.” he said weakly, his vision still black.

“I’m Ally. I’ll stay right here with you.” Despite the fact that Alan couldn’t feel anything but pain in most of his body, he could make out the warm hand holding his. The darkness consumed him and he was unconscious again.

His vision still black, a voice faded back in, “Alan, you have to stay with me. The paramedics will be here in a moment.” Now he could smell something. Rubbing alcohol? Vodka? People were talking all around him but he saw no faces, only heard Ally clearly. Time was fragmented. Suddenly he was on a gurney in an ambulance. His vision faded in and a man was administering an IV into his hand.

“Stay still, we’re on our way to MGH.”

Alan blacked out again.

Opening his eyes, bright, blurry light pierced his vision and he closed his eyes again. “…severe concussion. The damage to his leg is severe. We need to get him in for surgery as soon…” someone said and once again he faded into the unconscious depths of the dead ocean.

Much later, Alan awoke in a hospital room, his head pounding and his chest and leg on fire. He slowly looked to the right and left and saw his wife on an iPad next to his bed. It was dark outside his window. “What happened?” he asked weakly.

She looked up, mild concern on her face. “A car hit you as you crossed the street. You need to pay attention.”

“Where’s Ally?”

“Who’s Ally?”

“I don’t know. Someone that helped me at the accident.”

“I have no idea.” she replied “I’m going to go get Stephen and Cindy. They’re in the waiting room.”

She got up and left. A moment later Alan saw an unkempt old woman in a worn grey sweatshirt come into the room. She seemed vaguely familiar. It took a moment, but Alan finally recognized her, the homeless woman in the blankets by the courthouse. “How are you feeling?” she asked in the same soft voice he had heard at the accident.

He knew her right away by her voice. “Ally?” he asked.

She nodded.

“You, you helped me,” Alan said as a doctor walked into the room.

“Actually, she saved you.” the doctor said. “Ally here gave you CPR until the paramedics arrived.”

A tear rolled down Alan’s face. “I don’t know what to say.” he stammered.

She walked over to his bed and patted his hand. “Just take care of your family. That’s thanks enough.” the woman turned and walked toward the door. At the door, she paused, turned back for a moment “and for God’s sake, stay off your phone when you’re walking.”

Weeks later, Alan was again, walking through the courthouse, this time with a cane. He saw Ally sitting, huddled in the cold and he stopped. He walked over to her and sat down beside her. Half asleep, she awoke and looked at him and smiled “Alan.”

He placed a hand on her shoulder and handed her his fresh cup of coffee. “Can I help you find someplace warm to stay?”

“No. Thank you. Jack isn’t allowed in a shelter and I won’t part with him.” She lifted the wool blanket to show a scruffy mutt underneath.

Alan smiled and said “Okay.” He looked around at all the people going back and forth, doing their ‘busy’ work. A few people glanced at him and Ally on the side of the courthouse, but no one looked for long. “Ally, with all these people going about, when I got hurt, it was you who came to help me. Why?”

“You needed me, and I was here.” she smiled.

Alan slowly nodded. “Yes, you were. I promise to stop and talk to you every day from now on. If you ever need a meal or something to drink, let me know.” and he hugged her.


If you know someone that is homeless or to help the homeless in Boston, go to: http://mahomeless.org/get-help

For homeless assistance in other areas of the United States, go to: http://nationalhomeless.org/

Jack & Elaine – The Bracelet

Jack & Elaine – The Bracelet 1024 609 Jason Stadtlander

A newspaper slapped the door and landed on the porch with the normal thud. Elaine turned her bike around and headed down the driveway in the cool early morning toward the next house. Thud—the next newspaper landed squarely where she threw it. She had a saddlebag over her, the front was half full of newspapers and the back had yet to be emptied, weighing heavily on her.

Elaine had gotten the newspaper route five months ago to earn some extra money and she had saved up enough for the iPod touch she had been wanting. She was also planning to do some shoveling once the snow started to fall. At the moment she was finding great joy in the crisp late fall air. There was no snow on the ground yet, but the smell of winter was abundant. 

Looking toward the next house, she failed to see the skateboard ramp that a child had left along the sidewalk, and her bike’s front tire caught the lip on the side of the ramp. Elaine was thrust over the handlebars so fast she didn’t have time to think. She put her hand out to catch her fall but landed hard on her shoulder and her head slammed into the ramp. Despite the protection of her helmet, Elaine’s vision began to blur and she could feel herself losing consciousness. Just before she passed out, she saw a woman walking toward her in a long dress or nightgown. The woman had long dark hair and reached out for her just as Elaine’s vision filled with white and she went unconscious.

As awareness returned, Elaine heard sirens in the distance. Slowly, she opened her eyes and saw a man looking down at her; there was a bright light on the ceiling above. She tried to sit up and look around but couldn’t move her head. She held up her right arm, then her left. Missing from her left arm was the charm bracelet that her mother had given her for her fifth birthday.

“Don’t move. We have your head stabilized for the trip. You’re in an ambulance,” the man said.

Suddenly Elaine’s head hurt badly and a tear rolled down her cheek.

“Do you know what happened?” he asked.

“Yeah.  A woman . . . No,” she replied groggily.

“What’s your name?” the man asked.

“Elaine. My name is Elaine. Who are you?” she asked.

“My name is Mark. I’m an EMT. We’re taking you to the hospital. Do you know what day it is?”

“Yeah it’s . . . Tuesday.”

“Good. And the date?” Mark asked.

“December eighth, I think.”

“Good. Just rest.”

“The woman—who was she?”

“I don’t know about a woman. A man called 911.  He saw you lying on the ground outside his house.”

Elaine was taken to the hospital where a few tests were performed and the doctor decided he wanted to monitor her for the day. As she lay, drifting in and out of sleep, her parents sat by her side. They only stepping out at three that afternoon to get a bite to eat downstairs.

Lying there, once again Elaine drifted off to sleep but awoke suddenly to a rustling noise. She opened her eyes to see the woman in a plain white dress she had seen earlier at the accident. She was stepping around the corner of her hospital room door, leaving. Elaine looked down at her bed and noticed her charm bracelet in her closed hand; the same bracelet that had fallen off during her bike accident.

A few seconds later her parents walked through the door. “Who was that?” Elaine asked.

“Who was who? Your father and I have been out in the hall for a few minutes by the nurse station. We didn’t see anyone,” Her mother replied.

“A woman. She was wearing a long dress—she just left.”

“Sweetie, no one has come or gone from your room in the last few minutes that we’ve seen.”

Elaine looked down again at the golden bracelet in her hand. A new charm now hung among the others on the delicate chain—a small heart, the side of which looked like an angel’s wing.

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