I noticed that homeless woman once again today. Hair amiss. Fingernails like tiger's claws. Shirt torn in the back exposing her bra strap. She looked like some wild child out of Kipling's Jungle Book. I gathered up the courage to do something small for her. I bought a small insulated, collapsible cooler at the dollar store and bought some ice cold bottled water. It would fit easily within her backpack.
"Here," I said. "A gift from the heavens."
She smiled broadly as she looked in the cooler to find the cold water.
"No beer?" she asked.
"If I still drank, I would buy us both a beer and we would get a buzz."
The bringing of the cooler completely broke the proverbial ice.
"Clara," she said, shaking my hand. "My name is Clara."
"Nice to meet you, Clara," I replied, noticing the weathered lines on her face. She is about in her thirties, but looked older than that.
"What do you want?"
"Most men want something from a woman when they do something like that," Clara said. "You want me to suck your dick behind the store?"
This caught me completely by surprise and I stammered upon my words.
"A thank you and a possible friendship is all I want."
She eyed me suspiciously. I am forgetting the unwritten laws of the streets after being homed for so long. It is tit for tat at this level of existence. Her dog eat dog mentality brought back a wave of memories of my homeless days filled with drunken bliss. I would have done anything for a beer and a pack of cigarettes. And I got taken advantage of several times after being homed by some of George's homeless cohorts as well. HIV/AIDS Guy comes to mind.
I walked over to my car parked next to the convenience store and she followed me. Rosa was sitting inside the running car as I sat down to write down my phone number to hand to Clara.
"Call me if things get too tough," I told her through my open window as I handed her my number.
Rosa watched on intently as I left to drive off.
"That was stupid," Rosa said of me giving her my number.
"Why?" I asked.
"Cause she is going to call us at three AM in the morning, drunk, and wanting you to rescue her."
"Sweetheart, you forget where you have been," I said. "You were once in her shoes."
"Yeah, that's true," Rosa said with a smirk. "That is why I know she is going to call your ass tonight, drunk as hell."
It takes one to know one as the old saying goes and Rosa is probably right. I will jump that hurdle when the time arrives. I was just glad I could do something to help another human being in a situation I once found myself in. Rosa is just the more reasoned angel of my existence and was being bluntly honest as she usually is. Where fools rush in was the old quote that came to mind of my actions today.