By Lydia Oyetunji
Jessica sat in the cold, damp alley, her rolled sleeping bag and a flat cardboard box protected her from the ground. She struggled to see the stars in the sky which were overshadowed by streetlights. As instructed, patiently she waited what’s to come.
In search of the inebriated loiters from local clubs and pubs in the area, two police officer’s walked their regular Friday night beat. An officer noticed a woman slumped over against the wall.
“Hey Richards, let’s see what’s going on down here.” The two men made their way to Jessica.
“Hello, Ma’am?” The officer barked as the light from his flashlight shown brightly on her and the graffiti backdrop.
“Yes sir,” she responded using her hand as a shield from the light.
“What are you doing here?” “Are you under the influence of drugs and alcohol?”
“No officer, I’m just waiting.”
The officers were puzzled by her response. “What are you waiting for?”
“You won’t get change here. There is a shelter downtown. My colleague and I will get you a burger if you’re hungry.”
“I’m not hungry nor am I homeless. I have no need for the type of change you’re speaking of. Last weekend I stumbled out of a nearby bar, high on the drugs and alcohol that I used to heal my wounded soul. As I staggered past party goers and pedestrians, he emerged from the crowd and lead me here.”
“Did he harm you in any way?” The officer asked as his partner stood with pen and pad in hand, ready and willing to write down the specifics of her report.
“No, he helped me as I regurgitated the poison which was a mere useless band-aid used to heal my wounds. Holding my hair and rubbing my back, he asked why I sought self- destruction as a way of life. The stranger listened as I told him how I was abused as a child, a battered wife and lost my kids to foster care. He lent me not only his ear but his shoulder as I sobbed and explained my need to make the pain go away.”
“So, you are hoping to see him here?”
“He comforted me. He said that despite everything I have been through if I waited patiently change would come. So, yes sir. I’m waiting! Every morning, I go home, change clothes and go to work. Every evening I return and wait patiently for his insight about change.”
“Well, ma’am, I respect what you’re doing, but for your safety, we can’t let you stay here. I have to ask you to move along. “
Disheartened by what had transpired, Jessica picked up her sleeping bag and began her stroll back to her car. Suddenly, as she reached the deserted street, she saw him standing under the canopy of a nearby shop.
“Hello, Mr. Do you remember me? You helped me a while back. I waited for you, patiently just like you said.”
Slowly approaching Jessica. “Yes, I remember you,” he responded.
“I need to know more, much more about the change you talked about.”
“My dear, change comes from within. Seek it diligently, just as, you sought me. It will come. You have the power to make all things new if you believe. You took the first step in a long journey by believing in me. A messenger to bring you comfort in your time of need.”
Jessica watched as the agent disappears into the very alley in which they met, perhaps to calm the next person in need.