Homeless

By
Whenever Ethan would walk up the pathway to Kaden’s home and knock on the door, it would take a while for someone to answer. It wasn’t really Kaden’s house. He lived with a few friends from high school and they would either not hear Ethan because of loud music or just ignore him because they really didn’t care for his excessive want to help them. While he waited at the footsteps, he would often cure his boredom by gazing at the garden or watching cars pass by. Today he sat on the porch staring at the ground, watching bugs scurry and fulfill their only purpose in life; to do work and survive. He notices one bug that was divine compared to the others but wasn’t moving quite as fast. It was a praying mantis that seemed to have a broken leg.

“Ethan?”

“Oh hey Kaden. You really should talk to everyone about answering the door for me once in a while. I don’t mind waiting but it really can get quite boring.” Kaden knew he got frustrated with them but Kaden figured he’s the one that decides to come there all the time.

“I’m sorry man. I was sleeping and everyone else was… I don’t know busy smoking or something.”
It was a routine that didn’t require much thought and that was exactly why it was derived. Mornings weren’t mornings; they were in the afternoon. Getting up in the morning wasn’t a fun task for Kaden and his roommates didn’t contribute to the cause. They were paying for his share of the rent and knew he had no chance in a job. Everyone believed that he never would have the strength to lift my head off of the pillow.
There were, however, Sundays. Ethan was an old friend of Kaden’s and they were still friends but their relationship seemed to slip away, parallel to Kaden’s motivation for a job. Growing up going to different schools, they got together regularly to play music. They didn’t have as much influence on each others’ lives as Ethan would have liked though. Kaden’s groups of friends were the kinds that have no sympathy for those that are trying to help. They believed they could take care of themselves.
But every Sunday to this day, Ethan would stop by the house after church to say hello to Kaden, whether he was awake or unconscious.

“It’s alright. Hey are you coming back to church anytime soon? I haven’t seen you there in a while,” said Ethan.

“I don’t know, maybe. It’s pretty early to be doing that stuff. Well for me at least”.

“Just let me know when you want to go and I’ll pick you up.”

“Alright. Well I don’t want to blow you off or anything but I really have to go. The guys are bugging me to get back inside to uh… watch a movie. I’ll catch you later alright man?”

“Ok, keep in touch alright? We don’t get to hang out as much as we used to”

“Alright. See ya later.”

It happened every week. Ethan would invite him to church but he was good at playing it off like he was actually considering going.

Ethan pulled out of the rutted dirt driveway and the guys inside waited for him to be out of sight.

“Kaden try this”, slurred Mike, a tall, skinny, pale, burned out kid with wearing an off-white t-shirt.

That night Kaden joined in with the guys to have a few drinks, or as he called it while talking to Ethan, watch a movie. They decided to drive to get something to eat but didn’t have a destination in mind. Mike just drove and drove and Kaden didn’t take into consideration that he was drunk because he was wasted himself. They didn’t get pulled over; even after a half hour of mindless driving. The only distinct feeling Kaden could remember from that night is the immediate charge of blood through his entire body when he saw a homeless person standing in the middle of the road. In that split second his mind told him he was dead. His gut feeling told him that this man who couldn’t afford to buy food on his own was going to die because of his foolish decision to hop in this car; because of his decision to surround himself with people who could care less about his decisions. Kaden’s gut feeling was wrong. Mike still had some control of himself and when he saw the old, bearded man, in ragged, brown, plaid clothing, he was afraid of killing him. He didn’t dodge the man for the sake of the man’s life to come. He dodged him hoping to save himself from a life of regret and jail time.

Just as the sun ascended the next morning, in the middle of his bacon and egg breakfast, Ethan felt the vibration of his phone against his leg. This was strange, knowing that the only people that had his cell phone number were his parents and Kaden but neither of them ever called. The phone was meant for emergencies. The number read “(248) 355-1638” but he had not recognized it. “Hello?,” he asked very confused.

“Hi. Is this Ethan?” asked a lady with a kind but professional tone.

Without realizing he was walking in a frantic circle he replied,” Yes it is. Who is this?”

“This is Lisa Shepard from North Oaks Emergency Hospital and I am calling regarding your friend Kaden”

“What’s wrong?” he asked with a sense of shock but filled with disappointment because he almost knew what was coming.

“There was an accident last night and alcohol was involved. Kaden is alive but may be facing permanent damage”. Ethan’s head filled with blood and instantly felt ten pounds heavier. His eyes blacked out for a short moment.

The hospital wasn’t packed. There was one mother crying in the waiting room, along with the baby she held. Ethan sat on the long row of green cushioned chairs right in the center, facing the grey, dual, swinging doors, waiting anxiously for a doctor to walk through and escort him to Kaden’s room. After a couple hours his attentive posture began to fade and his eyes moved toward the floor, away from the doors that would swing open every so often. His leg developed a pattern of nervous jittering until he consciously decided to make it stop. After the minute hand on the analog clock made four or five revolutions, the doors opened one last time and when Ethan lifted his head, the doctor was looking straight into his eyes with a sense of sympathy.

Kaden’s room was crowded. Not with people but with extremely advanced medical technology with hundreds of wires, coiling through the room. He didn’t know what half of the stuff was. Kaden was in no position to say a word but as soon as he saw Ethan walk in all he could say was “I’m sorry, Ethan. I’m sorry”. One tear left a glossy path down his right cheek.

Ethan didn’t have to say anything for Kaden to know what he was thinking. Kaden knew he was holding back anger but was also full of disappointment. Kaden had been paralyzed and numb. Not after the accident, but before.





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