15 minutes

i only stopped by for a few minutes.

the water in the shower is broken, turned all the way to hot. the men can't go in to fix it because one woman won't come out. she's barely visible through the steam, lathering away. the heat must feel amazing on such a cold night. others are angry. she keeps lathering. i understand.

folks are wet. the rain is making a mess of things and with the long weekend we aren't seeing the usual donations. a man is drenched, four layers soaked through. we give him a big blanket, it's not enough, we have no dry clothes. some folks start asking around, seeing who's got what. he's big though, this guy. we'll have to see.

he's new and he's angry. he's lost it all behind a relationship. he's never been here before and he can't believe he's here now. his voice is controlled and yet unnerves me. it's his first long night, a dark night of the soul. i wonder if he'll make it, but there's nowhere else to go.

the TV's on the blink. a bad night for no TV. about twenty guys are huddled around the snowy picture while a couple are tinkering behind. a cheer goes up. a horrible picture beats no picture at all. it goes back to snow. motherfucker, one says and stamps his foot.

she comes up to me in her wheelchair. it's raining, she said. can't we stay longer in the rain. it's not my call but i'm working on it i tell her, i am so sorry and i truly am but i've only got so much pull. she turns away, mutters, pissed. it seems like i should be able to fix it. i understand.

they've come to offer a bible study. have you worked with the homeless before, i ask. no, he says, but you know, i've been to prison myself, and looks a bit sheepish. somehow soothed by that i think it'll be okay, just don't push them, i say, folks can come if they want but don't force it. you'll be amazed by the faith here but don't push it on those who aren't interested. i hear you, he says, i am just the instrument. but aren't we all, I think and hope it will be okay.

she's fallen asleep early, lying on the floor in the middle of the din. folks stepping over her occasionally because it's a full house tonight and there's a long way to go. one stumbles into her, she rolls over, automatically grips her bag already nestled in her arms looks up and away and shuts her eyes. i notice her walker folded up next to her. as much as i try and see and know i still can't understand how it's come to this.