Saturday, July 23, 2011

Charlie X: The Unreported Story

"Fifi! What about Fifi? Fifiiiii! Noooo, pleeeeeeease!"

They'd come to drag Charlie away the shelter compound. Two stone faced, blue uniformed officers arrived like unwilling delivery men come to pick up a noxious package. The sour pair just wanted to get it over with. Like anyone else who was there, I was watching in fear and horror. It's one thing to read about "disturbed 31 year old man picked up by police", it's quite another to witness the casualty first hand. Those who had a heart felt a crack in it.

Then came our worst nightmare: Charlie turned to us, recognizing our presence, bringing us into his dire straights. Some quickly turned their heads to avoid the spotlight of his gaze. I too wished to turn away but could not, too gripped not to know. How can I describe to you the terror in his voice? How can I describe to you the feeling of someone who's calling up from the bottom of a lost well? Charlie was in that secret childhood black space where the child is left to die and nobody knows.

"Please! I don't want to go! Don't make me go back to the cold people!"

And then he was gone.


So many inconvenient souls. Just as everyone has different physical levels, so does everyone have different spiritual levels. In the homeless hell-world, there's a chasm between life and death and it's no small leap. Not everyone can run a four minute mile. Those who cannot make the leap fall into the chasm just like Charlie did. I only wish everyone were forced to see this scene and realize what's at stake. But then, we're a dying planet for a reason.

As the police cruiser drove off in the early morning sun, the shock waves dissipated through the crowd as we dispersed in a huddled quiet. What does one say after watching a fellow soldier taken off the battlefield with a serious head wound? Yes, we were all thankful it was not us. And yes, we all knew next time it might be. Most of all, at that very moment, one wants a home, a safe place to rest and be born anew clean and refreshed. But that's just a lost dream crushed by man's ugly will.

"Don't make me go back to the cold people!" I wondered if anyone else was as marked by those words as I was. Some people had to process right away what had just happened, talking about Charlie and his horrendous pain. He was disturbing everyone, talking about an unknown anti-Christ come to destroy us and "Beware the men in suits! Wolves in sheep's clothing!" Unfortunately for Charlie his remarks were far, far too accurate for the suit men to bear. He must be disposed of for the common good of the lie we live.

I call Charlie's phenomenon "Truth Possession". We all have it to one degree to another. Each of us has a personal insight into life and if we were working in tandem living as one, putting all the individual pieces together, a more perfect picture would form of life and its meaning. Instead, we choose willful ignorance even as the impossibility of that grows clearer every day, turning us into an absurd and silly people, damned in the eyes of the Lord.

In the Truth Possession phenomena, a spiral effect can happen like a whirlpool, sucking you in and drowning you. The frustration of no one listening to your vital news engulfs you as you take on the fate of your own truth afire. We all understand the emergency of even one house on fire and yet fewer and fewer alarms are answered. The spiritual has now even become the physical: so many people-less houses as we careen into self-mandated chaos.

In other words, yes, Governor Perry is irreparably wrecking this state but no, that does not give you the right to kill him. (He'll do that to himself given time.)

In the surrounding blocks around the shelter are known gathering spots. Some, like me, like the feeling of being outside the shelter's grasp but yet be close enough to easily return to the nest. I feel freer to speak my feelings when I'm across the street. I wanted to talk about Charlie, allay my fears and scares even if with only a false reassurance as I replayed the scene over and over again my mind. It was the optomistic sun I kept remembering: how could this happen with the promise of the coming beautiful day?

But I couldn't go to the usual gathering spots. Too many new faces, too many chances for unthoughtful words and closed hearts. No, I needed my own space to process this and gather my soul. Sometimes I think that's what it truly means to be homeless: no one to turn to. I wandered away from the shelter's safety net that sometimes binds to a lonely spot I'd used before. Luckily - as if on cue - healing birds arrived to merrily chirp in my ears. I was grateful for their well-being.

Forcing down the emotional vomit, I wondered what it would be like if we reported the truth instead of facts. What if a reporter showed up and headlined, "Dog-eat-dog world unmercifully stresses souls then turns its back on mentally ill"? There's a real fucking fact for you assholes. Who's going to tell of Fifi, the stray cat Charlie loved with all his heart, sharing his hard earned food with? I know the thought of her hurting without his care will unbearably torture him in the night at the pavilion.

Then I just had to let the tears go.


Sometimes I make it as far as Victory Plaza, the cold concrete monument to money built by Ross Perot Jr. Video monitors from all sides flash ads of the good life to this virtual ghost town doomed by the 2008 financial collapse. Even in the face of doom and despair we cling to our delusions of grandeur. Greed can go on forever, our spirits can be cured by pills, no time to be human - it's just not practical.

From what are we running? This much I can tell you: keep running long enough and you'll end up just like Charlie X. He's just a little farther down the path than most, forced to face the true face of man before his time. Go ahead, turn your back on Charlie, silence his agonizing words, lobotomize his life - do all these things in the name of preserving life. But know this too: Charlie is you.


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