TwoTooth Marie was an old woman of the street who was missing one of her two biggest upper teeth and one of her two biggest lower teeth, so that was why she got the name TwoTooth Marie. She was wandering around Japantown in San Francisco one cold November night, when the fog had rolled in & refused to roll back out. After being rudely honked & yelled at by a bully in an SUV at the corner of Post & Webster, Marie became petulant with her destitute situation & tired of pushing her ever-full shopping cart with its rusty wheels up & down the endless sidewalks. She rolled a smoke & hung out near the entrance of a swanky condo development, & tailed the next resident into the building, lugging her rolled-up sleepingbag discreetly inside a white garbage bag, plus another big bag containing everything she would need for the night.
Her shopping cart she had already stowed earlier inside a storage space in the basement garage complex, to reclaim later. Once inside, she ignored the resident’s puzzled glance & made a beeline for the elevator, which she immediately took to the top floor, which was the 4th.She roamed the 4th floor hallway until she found the exit stair & took it UP to the secret landing & the door leading onto the roof.
There, on the roof, she found a cozy space beneath a network of air viaducts & utility structures, where she could unfurl her red flannel - clad sleepingbag & sequester herself, protected from view about 75% of the way. Only one or two windows possibly had a partial view of her hiding spot, or any resident who came up to the roof to smoke & strode about in her vicinity. But only once the entire first night she was up there did Marie hear anyone else open one of the two roof doors, & nothing came of it.
But after Three Nights, TwoTooth Marie was immured in her secret spot, putting the finishing touches to a peanut butter & jelly sandwich, when she heard a door open, & the sound of voices, followed by the step of shoes upon roof gravel. It happened to be Thanksgiving night. Marie froze, fearing the worst.
An array of fight or flight options rapid - fired through her mind at the semisubconscious level. They’d found her! It was the asian fellow who had stared at her suspiciously earlier that afternoon when she’d come in, she was sure of it. But how crappy to be evicted on the very night of the holiday! Why had she been foolish & chosen to spend Thankgsiving in Japantown instead of Snoe Valley?
Hopefully they would just ask her to gather up her things & escort her out. Don’t bring the cops into this!
“We know you’re under there,” said a male voice, authoritative. “Come on out now.”
“We can’t let you stay up here by yourself all night,” added the voice of a woman: his companion.
“Come on down & eat, we’ve got a plate of food all ready for you!” added a third voice: that of a child—perky, congenial.
In the midst of hastily gathering together her parcels, Marie froze in renewed wonder & peered out at her presumed assailants. “What?” she exclamasked* in a voice like cracked concrete.
“Marie, you heard us,” the man continued, yet more stridently. “Come out from there… & come downstairs & have dinner with us!”
His wife, beside him, laughed. “That’s right! We’re not going to have you wasting away alone in the cold on Thanksgiving night! What kind of people would we be to show no concern for our fellow suffering human beings on this special day?”
Pleasantly flabbergasted, nearly killed with kindness, Marie peered from beneath the viaduct beneath which lay her sleepingbag, eyed them for a moment suspiciously to make sure they weren’t still trying to entrap her; decided their magnanimity was genuine, & crept out to join them. “That’s so nice of you!” she cried, before she’d even seen what awaited her on the dinner table below.
It was a feast fit for homeless queen. And that’s exactly how Marie was treated all that evening & straight on through til next morning. When she had eaten all she could hold, still they tried to push more on her; though she drained her mead glass a half dozen times, still they filled it again; & at last, at the end of the night, the children of the kind couple escorted Marie to their guest room—normally the nursery, but mom & dad moved the baby in with them for the night.
After all, what kind of people would be be if we showed no concern for our fellow, suffering humans?
28 November 2015
*Snoe (Snowy) Valley: because like other once-vital San Francisco neighborhoods, it’s mostly affluent white property owners now.
exclamasked: (neologism) exclaimed + asked