Let It Be

And when the broken hearted people living in the world agree, there will be an answer, let it be. For though they may be parted there is still a chance that they will see. There will be an answer, let it be. Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be. There will be an answer, let it be.

As I was heading home from a day at the beach, I noticed a young man coming toward me who appeared to be homeless. As the distance between us narrowed, I greeted him with a smile and he reciprocated before asking for directions to the sheriff’s station. I attempted to point the way and give directions, but stopped mid-sentence realizing it was much too far to walk for someone who had possibly been wandering the streets all day, so I offered to drive him there. He gladly accepted my offer and we proceeded to walk the rest of the way to the garage of my apartment for my car, enjoying a friendly chat as we walked.

Never Judge a Book by its Cover

He introduced himself as Letitbe, told me that he is from Zimbabwe, and that he is 27 years old. To be sure I heard him clearly, I asked if his name was pronounced “Let-it-be,” like the Beatles’ song and he confirmed by showing me the only ID he had in his possession… the band that was placed around his wrist after his arrest the night before. I then asked if his parents gave him that name or if he had changed it later in life. He said his father had named him at birth.

As we made our way to my garage, he attempted to ask a question about my birth date I think; but I was not yet familiar with his accent so I was having a difficult time understanding him. He then began to talk about positions of the stars as he pointed toward the sky and he told me he was Scorpio. That’s when I understood he wanted to know my astrological sign and not my age.

“Oh, I’m Aquarius!”

He smiled, “I am not surprised. You have a humanitarian spirit.”

Over the course of the next few hours, he told me a lot about himself, including the special powers given to him by God, and he provided proof via a verbal claim that he can turn a rock into a diamond simply by picking it up. I silently wondered how someone with such God-given powers could be homeless, but I did not interrupt as he went on to inform me that he had the power to make me as young as I wished… as young as 27 if that’s what I wanted. I didn’t doubt for a minute that he could do it, but I was also sure he would be the only person on the planet who would see me that way.

Earlier in our conversation, he admitted that he had been picked up the night before for drinking beer at the beach and having no ID; and then told me he needed to pick up his belongings at the Sheriff’s station (a backpack and sleeping bag). I drove him there and waited outside as he went in to retrieve his belongings. After about 10-15 minutes, he returned to my car empty handed and informed me it would be at least 30 minutes before they could get to him. He then offered to wash my car since I had earlier remarked how dirty it was from sitting in the garage. We left the Sheriff’s station and headed for the do-it-yourself car wash, but I detoured first to my apartment so I could get some quarters for the wash.

Breaking Bread

Several minutes later I returned to my car and handed him a spontaneous meal which consisted of two slices of warmed pizza left over from the night before, an orange, and a bottle of water. I was sure he was hungry and thirsty but judging by his unkempt appearance, I never would have guessed sanitary; but he used the water to wash his hands instead of drinking it. Never judge a book by its cover.

It was a little after 4 p.m. and the traffic was heavy, so what should have been a five-minute drive to the carwash turned into a 20-minute crawl. My top was down, so we were at least enjoying the early evening air as we made our way through stop and go traffic. Out of nowhere it seemed, he pulled out a small bottle of clear liquid and took a swig before tossing the empty container to the ground. I reminded him that just minutes earlier he told me he was a child of God and then reprimanded him for not showing more respect for the planet that God gave to us all. He agreed and apologized.

A Star is Born

As we listened to the music playing on the radio, he offered to sing one of his songs. “Is it a song you yourself wrote?” I asked.

“Yes” he responded proudly, “I’m in the music business.”

I turned off the radio and said, “Go ahead, let me hear what you got.” He was happy to oblige:

“Shordeh pu’ deh’ red dress on, we gon’ pardeh all nigh long, dance unti’ deh break uh dawn; Shordeh pu’ ‘yo red dress on.”

“Shore day?” I interrupted. “ Are you saying shore day?”

“Yeah; you don’ know shordeh? It is like what deh man call deh wife.”

“ Oh, Shorty; yeah, I know what Shorty means.”

“Shordeh, pu’ da red dress on, we gon’ pardeh all nigh long, dance unti’ da break uh dawn, Shordey pu’ yo’ red dress on…”

He sang that verse repeatedly until he decided he needed a “cigarette.” So he asked, for the second time now, if he could smoke in my car. Since my top was down I allowed him his vice; and he lit up his butt and drew several hits into his lungs before tossing what was left of it to the wind. He immediately became a different person after those drags… His energy level went so far down that we drove the rest of the way in silence… with only the music from the radio filling the air.

My Napping Savior

We finally made it to the car wash and I had to wait for the woman ahead of me to finish with her wash before I could start mine. I watched carefully to see what she was doing since this do-it-yourself wash was going to be a new experience for me; I was no longer confident that my savior would be of any help since he was now passed out in my passenger seat.

I finished with the wash and then fed the machine several more quarters for the rinse before heading back to the station to drop off my friend… now with my top up and windows closed. There was the scent of homelessness wafting through the confined space of my Cruiser, but I understood what he had been through and continued to suffer in silence knowing the drive would be short.

When we returned to the Sheriff’s station, I went inside with him this time to see if I could speed things along. After providing some reasonable explanations, we were able to retrieve his backpack but not his sleeping bag. Disappointed but armed with his backpack, we hopped back in my ride and headed in the direction of my apartment. “Where would you like me to drop you off?” I asked. “The Cheesecake Factory” he said. .. which is near where I first saw him walking aimlessly.

As I was pulling up to the curb to drop him off, he said he had to use the bathroom, so I swerved back into traffic and continued to my garage. Once there we exited my car and I escorted him to the men’s shower just past the pool and suggested that he take full advantage of the facilities while I go and charge his phone for him. I then ran up to my apartment, plugged up his phone and cooked some spaghetti. About an hour later, I went to the pool in search of him while carrying a plate of spaghetti, a hoodie, and blanket to give him since he no longer had his sleeping bag.

When I did not find him at the pool or anywhere near the men’s facilities, I went back to the garage, got in my car, and drove around the complex looking for him. It wasn’t long before I spotted him outside the complex a short distance from the pool entry. He appeared to be headed for another night of aimless walking.

As I approached, I lowered my window and called out to him. He was visibly relieved that I had not abandoned him because not only did I have his phone, he had left his backpack and skateboard on the backseat of my car. He jumped in and I asked where I could drop him off. He pointed to the corner just ahead, so I drove him that short distance. As he was collecting his belongings, I handed him the $5 bill that Leon had instructed me to give. He was touched by the man’s story when I shared the day’s events with him as I cooked spaghetti.

I bid Letitbe goodnight and wished him well. He thanked me profusely for my kindness and even called me ma’am. I guess he never got around to turning me into that 27 year old; but that’s okay because I will always be young at heart.

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