Alternate Reality

Photo by Mental Health America (MHA) on

It was his knapsack and duffel bag that I noticed first, piled neatly outside Tim Hortons. The typical homeless gear. I went through the drive-thru and decided that if he was outside after I bought my coffee I would see if there was anything I could do for him.

Sure enough, he was sitting on his possessions sipping a coffee. I asked him if he was homeless and he said he was. He told me had escaped from Toronto. My first thought was that he was a convict and it bothers me that that was my first thought. I’m obviously not as ‘woke’ as I like to think.

He had to leave Toronto because there was a movement to make it a separate country. He couldn’t stand to live in a place where they trafficked children and legalized child marriages. He said he was raped by 45 men, under a bridge. It was near a shelter for women and children, a spot where children were scooped up never to be seen again. He believed that the Book of Mormon was true. The government used trillions of dollars to make child marriages legal. Money that would never be used to benefit us. We had to fight to protect the children.

He was heading west, hoping to find work and a better life. He had worked laying tile. He was part Micmac and told me that the white man was good for his people. They saved his people from the French and the Jews and another group I don’t remember. I suggested he find a shelter where he would be safe. He said he would be okay. God provides.

He talked, I listened. This disjointed, one-sided conversation was less than 5 minutes long. I didn’t know what to say and there really wasn’t anything of value that I could say. While he talked, I stopped seeing his homelessness. I was looking into the face of an attractive man with kind eyes whose calm demeanor belied the torment of his mind.

I wanted to pity him, but I couldn’t. He was independent and like most of us he was trying to find his way. He was just a man with a knapsack heading west.