I Sleep Sitting Up

LB Walker has found that work at Constance Abbey is sometimes a 24-hour undertaking. Here is his description of a night this past week: “It’s okay. I sleep sitting up,” he says. Mr. B—–, a man in his 60’s, is gentle and soft-spoken. His kindly disposition makes it even harder to have to watch him sleep in the cold. “Are you going to go to the warming center,” we ask him. “No, no, no…” He mutters. “Got to be at work [selling Commercial Appeals at intersections] at 3a.m.]. I’ll be fine [sleeping] at the bus stop. “We convince him to go if he will let us pick him up from the warming center around 2 a.m. So, he finally goes. He pops to his feet like a much younger man but with his gaze to the ground. He slings the garbage bag and backpack full of his possessions over his shoulder, and walks to the curb where he slings it back down, sits, and waits. “You need a sleeping bag,” we ask. He responds, “No, thank you,” and tells us he sleeps sitting up, then, motions us to come over like he has a secret. “Closer,” he says motioning to us. “Closer, closer. Here,” he pulls out a crisp $20 bill, his gaze still fixed on the ground. “Take this. I appreciate everything y’all do for me. “We don’t take the money, of course. But, we’d be lying if I didn’t admit that we need it,… badly. It goes to pay for things like the gas we used to pick him up at 2 a.m.

Published by Constance Abbey

Memphis, Tennessee

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