Who knows what lies within those pages?

I SPENT A DAY with the homeless this week.

They were good people.

They had good lives.

They had once lived in comfortable houses in comfortable neighborhoods, and some had even found residences in high-fashion mansions of the very rich.

Those were the good days.

The high times don’t last forever.

The glory days always have a dead end.

And now these good people had fallen on hard times.

That happens when you get older.

That happens when you’re thrown away.

They still have their memories, both good and bad.

They have loved.

And lost.

They have witnessed death.

Some have even been guilty of murder.

They have been on top.

They’ve hit rock bottom.

And, for them, it’s all a mystery.

It wasn’t supposed to end this way.

By then, that’s the way it is in the real world.

We never know how it’s going to end.

And sometimes the last page is torn out.

We never know how it ends, and it usually ends with a preposition.

We’re left dangling on the end of a participle.

That’s how it was with these people.

That’s how it was with the homeless.

They are tattered.

And torn.

They have been unceremoniously kicked out of their houses, places where they lived for so many years.

They are poured into burlap bags.

They are stacked in old cardboard boxes.

They wind up in yard sales, in garage sales, in estate sales, set back amidst the dust and grime of second-hand bookstores, stuck on the dollar shelves of public libraries.

And many, God and Ray Bradbury forbid, have been condemned to the fire.

I spent a lot of time with the homeless.

They resided on the pages of old books.

The covers are warped.

The pages are yellowed.

Some of the pages are missing.

A lot of the books have been forgotten.

Old age happens.

But the bad and the beautiful, the high and the mighty, the lovers and the killers, the powerful and the lonely who live on those pages are as vibrant as ever.

Spend a little time with them.

You’ll be surprised at the stories they can tell.

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  • Jackie Taylor Zortman

    I love the way this is written and the story it tells.

    • Caleb Pirtle

      Thanks, Jackie. We lose our books. We lose fragments of our lives.

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