Help somebody

Brenna Yovanoff is one of my favourite new-found writers. I have always loved the Fantasy and Urban Fantasy genres, and I enjoy the YA entries into that pool.  There are probably a couple of blurbs / reviews of Urban Fantasy / YA books on this blog. My Books Wish List has kind of exploded recently . . . and the price of books in Australia is ridiculous!  [Riddikulus! even]

Brenna is part of the Merry Sisters Of Fate group with Tessa Gratton and Maggie Stiefvater. It was via my somewhat fan-girly love of Maggie S. that I discovered Brenna and Tessa, was captivated by their writing, and overcame my long-time dislike of short stories in the process!  I have since ordered books by Brenna – The Replacement, and The Space Between is being published in November – and Tessa’s Blood Magic.  I can’t wait to get my fuzzy little paws on them, along with Maggie’s just-released The Scorpio Races.  Truly an embarrassment of riches! There will be blurbs [and going by my recent BookDep order – see previous post – and others in the queue, there will be LOTS of blurbs].

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Anyways, this is actually an entry for a contest for Brenna’s new book The Space Between, about Daphne, the daughter of fallen angel Lucifer and demon Lilith, who leaves  her home in the city of Pandemonium [in what is essentially Hell] to rescue her brother Obie who has somehow gone missing whilst doing good works on Earth.  One of the main themes of The Space Between, says Brenna, is “helping people who just aren’t in a position to help themselves.”

The contest then is “ . . . to tell a Good Samaritan story; when someone helped you, and they didn’t have to; or maybe, when you helped someone when you could tell they needed it . . . ”

I could just outline what Tux does for me every single day, especially the really, really, REALLY bad days, but I’d rather not, for this.  Instead I give a very little story, no drama, maybe everyone has done the same, maybe it is trivial,; yet it was something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time, and even if it’s a small thing it still is meaningful and important.

Here in Perth we have a lot of homeless people; it’s a major problem that the government ignores, or responds to by cutting funds to shelters and mental health facilities even further.  I donate clothes, and put together basic “kits” of make up products for the women’s shelters, but that’s about all I can do these days [given my own health issues].

So;  this particular day was actually the first time I was up, dressed and make up on, and out of the house – for something other than some kind of medical appointment – for weeks and weeks.  Tux and I did some bits of shopping and browsing in town. then stopped for a break and a coffee.

At a distance from the café’s posh [-ish] tables and chairs, with the gorgeous blue sky blazing overhead, was a public bench with a homeless bloke half lying on it.  I had seen this guy around the CBD before; he is a fairly fearsome looking character with a mass of grizzled hair and beard, tall and emaciated, his eyes a bit wild looking as he mutters to himself and pushes his life’s possessions around in an ancient little granny-cart.

Lying on the bench, he looked exhausted and depressed. Without thinking, I stood up and limped over.  Up close he seemed more alarming, or anyways I was more aware of being small and physically fragile .

“Excuse me . . . “ he looked up. “I don’t want to offend you but . . . would you like a cup of coffee or something?”

Raised shaggy eye brows, then a nod. Like he couldn’t quite believe it, or understand.  Like he was more used to being invisible.

When our orders came I took the tray over to The Bloke On The Bench; one large latte and I’d ordered a huge ham and cheese panini for him as well.  I placed the tray on the bench next to him and smiled up at him sideways, just a little.  I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it – because it wasn’t – it shouldn’t be – a big deal. He looked like he didn’t want to make a big deal out of it either.

Back at our table Tux and I lingered over our coffees and cake-y things [I had a gluten-free apple-ginger-almond cake; yum. I reckon I could easily figure out how to make it myself ].  My back was to The Bloke On The Bench but Tux was able to sneak a look.  Bloke was sipping his coffee slowly, and taking nibbles of the panini.  He wrapped up half and tucked it into his granny-cart, and with a look and a nod in our direction he was off on his way.

And that was it.  No song and dance or drama.  No fuss.  Even though the odds were high that would be the only meal he would get that day; and who knows where he’d sleep that night.

What was strange and horribly cringe-making though were the looks I was getting from other customers and people around me.  As though it was a really weird, strange thing to do.  As if I was somehow eccentric or bizarre.

Isn’t it a shocking indictment on our “First World” society; that it is considered weird behaviour to buy a hungry stranger a sandwich.  Well tough, call me weird, call me eccentric, but from now on anytime I stop and see someone like The Bloke On The Bench I’m going to buy him / her a fecking coffee and a sandwich.

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