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Came in on the train. 11:45 pm.
Went to a hole downtown.
Drank a beer waiting for the last bus to carry me home.
Sat next to a completely drunk man.
He had to work at eight the next morning in records at the county courthouse.
He switched to sipping coffee, said to me over and over:
"I've got everything I want in life, except one.
Don't ask, I don't know what it is."
Not said in perplexity or humor, not said in drunkenness, though slurred drunkenly.
He offered to buy me a beer.
Passed, headed out to the bus stop.

There a young man in a filthy tee-shirt curled up on the bench, shaking uncontrollably, eyes wild and glazed.
His harsh, frightening cough echoed throughout the deserted streets.
"You all right, man?"
"Don't feel so good. "
"Do some crack or something?"
"No, man, I swear, I'm sick."
"You on the street?"
"Yeah, I need the hospital."
"Bus'll be here in ten minutes."
Walked across the street and emptied a garbage bag full of papers.
Ripped holes in it for his head and arms.
"Here, wear this."
Helped him onto the bus.
He slumped down, nodded out coughing, shivering.
We got off two stops past mine.
Walked him to the entrance of Mercy Hospital.
An aide took him over.
He wasn't to his senses enough to thank me, but would have.
Kind, gentle man, real sick, would have died if left outside.
No reason for him to die tonight.

      — William Fairbrother