The streets were icy and the snow deep. Pointed icicles hung dangerously from rooftops. Few people trudged through the drifts at this early morning hour as I stood outside the metro station. I was bundled up in layers of scarfs, boots, gloves, and my long heavy wool coat. In one hand I clutched a huge bag full of blankets. In the other one --- breakfast and a thermos full of hot tea. I scanned the street up one side and down the other and then I saw them. Penny with Melody on a leash.
"Hey, over here," I hollered.
Penny glanced up, waved, and put her hand in the stop mode. "She's pooping."
I waited and watched. Even in the deep snow, Penny scooped up the pile Melody had left, put it into a plastic bag, and tossed it into a trash can. She picked up the small dog and crossed the street.
Melody was shivering.
"I brought some things for you and---,"
"You got a minute?"
I nodded. It was Sunday and my purpose was to make at least one person comfortable before I could return to my cozy, warm home.
"Follow me." Penny wrapped her unzipped jacket around Melody.
We shuffled through unplowed alleyways, past overfilled garbage bins, around a corner, and then I saw it. The shack Penny had mentioned during our previous meeting. A brown shingled, dilapidated structure that tilted.
"Come in," Penny said as she hoped up the two rickety steps.
I must have looked skeptical.
"It won't fall," she chuckled as she eyed my bags. "I smell food and we're starving."
Please don't let me see a lit fire in there, I thought as I edged in sideways through the small opening. Much to my relief there wasn't but what I did see I could never have been prepared for. A circle of eight, including one small child, to other dogs, and Garth, huddled around an electric heater.
Garth jumped up.
"Well, fancy meeting you here."
He took the bags from my outstretched hands. I searched for the electrical outlet powering up the heater.
"How on earth---,"
"Don't ask," Garth volunteered as he pointed to a disheveled, older man. "Meet Victor. Our retired electrical engineer."
To be continued next week.
Behind Every Window Lies a Story. Find out what some of the stories are in this circle of friends.
Remember the homeless. Don't judge them, for you know not their story.
www.ckalber.com Author of The Promise Series.