A Short Story By South Bay Scribe VLSloan
The Guardian Of Third Avenue
Sometimes I don’t see him for weeks and I wonder where he is.
He must cover several miles daily, walking silently up and down Third Avenue, wearing his heavy black peacoat with a hood. I don’t worry about him in the cold so much. It’s the blistering hot days I think of him most because he has the heavy coat on then, too.
The Guardian doesn’t stay in one place very long. You’re not allowed to. I know this because I heard a cop rousting another man–politely–from the doorway in an alcove of the Cox Cable building.
At this end of town, the Guardian makes his bed on the built-in concrete benches in front of the ATT building by the bus stop. It’s a good, if somewhat uncomfortable, bed. There is tree shade, it’s public and you can sleep beneath the concrete benches in case of rain.
But I’ve seen him much farther south, as much as five miles farther.
I used to say hello or good evening when I passed by on my walks, but he never replied. His silence was scary at first, but I understood why he couldn’t acknowledge me. I usually say nothing now, unless I’m coming out of Von’s and he’s there and I have something portable I can give him, like yogurt or breakfast bars or something.
Our routine is: slight hesitation on my part, no response on his, then me shoving something into his hands and running away.
And the truth is, I was for a while–crazy, that is–so I know about the food and the silence.
I’d like to take him home and let him take a shower, that seems like it would be the hardest thing about being homeless. But I am no longer the wild, carefree girl I was, living in my own house. I am older now and single, and I am much more careful about who I give my address to.
The other night, I was walking the long way around the block to my friend Anna’s house and I had two loaves of rye from the bread store. And there he was at his post. Walking fast as usual, I had to chase him down for half a block.
I was so glad I had two loaves that night. Because when I asked if he would like one, for the first time ever the Guardian looked down and I saw the vaguest flicker of a smile cross his face–not for me, for the bread. And then, after ten years, he made the only sound I had ever heard from him: Ahhmm.
I felt happy almost all the way to Anna’s.
After returning to college several years ago for further study, VLSloan began writing full time when her work began winning contests. She joined a writing group that was starting up in Chula Vista soon thereafter – the group now known as South Bay Scribes.
A member encouraged Sloan to join a writing site called Wattpad. The site has enabled her to develop a large body of work, including, but not limited to – Short Stories, Serials, varied Poetry Collections and a newly featured mystery Novella called: Arachnia.
Wattpad allows interaction with not only readers, but with other writers and she has been fortunate enough to attain wide readership there. Known as sloanranger on the site, she now focuses her efforts on submissions and locating a Literary Agent. You can find VLSloan and her work by googling: Wattpad.com/sloanranger