The Boy in the Park

It was my first rainy Tucker walk this morning, rainy enough for me to force the dog into his hated rain jacket. Victoria is a privileged society and we don’t let our dogs get wet. I had to drag him to Saxe Point, he hates the rain.

As we walked through the trails in the park, I caught a glimpse of a young man, shirtless, unruly blond hair in the middle of the bush. It’s 6 degrees and raining and he’s shirtless. The forest here is thick and unfriendly, every shrub has some kind of barb ready to draw blood. This is a good hiding place, and my seeing him this morning is an unlikely event. He doesn’t see me, of course but he’s banging his head with his hands. My first response was to pick up my pace, get some distance between us.

As I walked further my heart began to hurt, my pace slowed. Like there was some imaginary elastic band between us, the further I got away the harder it was to move forward. This guy might be dangerous, maybe high on meth. But something told me not to walk away, the feeling was undeniable, the urge to turn around so strong it brought tears to my eyes. I was the only one in the park this rainy Friday morning.

There’s a United Church behind my condo that runs some really wonderful programs for the less fortunate in our neighbourhood. Here in Victoria it’s not just the homeless that need a helping hand. The cost of living is high and there’s a large segment of working poor around. This Church runs the Rainbow Kitchen, the smell of frying bacon drives Tucker nuts on his morning walk. Every morning the kitchen attracts the same old gang, who come down for coffee, mostly bringing their own cups. I’m getting to know them. This morning is the free grocery day. No questions asked, a Thrifty’s food van delivers a truckload of food and those that need it can come fill up a bag or two. Someone at this church would know what to do for the boy in the park.

When I turned around my heart literally leapt with joy. I hadn’t got far anyway. He wasn’t banging his head any more, but he was still shirtless. “Are you okay?” I called. The answer came after a pause, he was surprised he’d been spotted, or possibly he thought for a second of reaching out. “Yeah, I’m okay,” he said clearly, soberly and possibly sadly I thought. That’s it, that’s all I could do. Anything else would be invading his privacy. He was lucid at least.

There’s nothing more to this story. No happy ending and no tragic ending. There’s no message or moral, approaching homeless men in parks is not recommended behavior nor do I advocate for it. There are angels in this world that might have known how to help this fellow, but that wasn’t me this morning. There’s just this young man in the park, shirtless in the frigid rain banging his head with his hands.


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2 Responses to The Boy in the Park

  1. Yikes, how sad is that?! I don’t know I might have gone a bit further to invade his privacy but you never know do you…

    Nancy December 8, 2019 at 2:20 pm Reply
  2. I would have invaded his privacy. I would have struck up a conversation of sorts, then asked why he has no shirt on with the weather as it was. Find out if he was homeless, hungry, thirsty, needed medicine, a roof etc. But then again, my RN training/experiences tends to rule with these situations. Poor kid. Hope he got a shirt & jacket & food & something warm.

    Jenny December 8, 2019 at 5:09 pm Reply

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