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Thanksgiving: Helping Those In Need

“Alright then,” announced Mr. Bumpers. “It’s decided. We’ll open the house to those less fortunate, like homeless-type people guests, right? All in?”

Nods of agreement around the table. “It’s great,” said Tallulah, the eldest daughter. “I mean, we have so much. And who wants to spend another Thanksgiving with Uncle Wheezer?”

“Oh Lord,” said Millie the mom. “No thanks. Loads a bong and starts his yawner about how we stole the land and owe it all back and it was utopia ’til we got here. Anyone off the railroad tracks is a better bet.”

And so it went. Barley shrugged, and secretly thought it would be really cool to have some homeless guy get a nice turkey dinner and talk about being outside all the time, getting to camp out and have your own dog. 

The next day Mr. (Bob) Bumpers and Millie went over to the Building Bridges roosting spot on South State and, though they had talked about having a selection process, it wound up being haphazard, and five random souls were invited to Thanksgiving dinner at their house on Glenn Eriksen Drive. 

“Come over whenever you want,” beamed Bob. “Mi casa is su casa too!” Millie smiled weakly. “Dinner 3 o’clock? I hope.”

And so it was that Thanksgiving Day 2023 began with a tentative knock on the Bumpers’ family door a little past 7 a.m. Mister Bob groaned and yawned and stretched and ran his hand though his hair and opened the front door where stood a cheerful bearded man with a dog on a rope.

In he came, excuses were exchanged, promises of coffee and maybe some eggs and have a seat anywhere you want let me go get organized a little, and the day was underway. Looper and his dog Parvo got comfy on a couch.

Bob was uncertain how the day might turn out, and in fact suddenly had misgivings. Well, he thought, what’s the worst that could happen?

Between passing potatoes and declining yams, by 4 o’clock the guests began talking about being homeless and how they got there.

LOOPER dropped out of college in the 1970s to “bum around” the country. He hopped freights, hitchhiked, stayed at communes. “But homeless is a much better life, a more evolved situation,” he said. 

“People think these camps are full of dangerous bums? Try a commune run by a bully who says he’s a guru. Communes are gone, so the best alternatives are camps,” he said. “There are home-free free souls wherever I go.”

BORIS, a former Ukrainian with no appetite for fighting against his relatives in Russia, arrived in the USA a year or so ago. He was still awaiting clearance at customs but instead changed his name from Ivan and left. “Not perfect here my life, but better than wars, yes? And guns?”

PARIS left Beverly Hills six months ago. Tired of the boring people, vacuous conversations and zero purpose in her superficial life, she went to the LA Greyhound depot with a $3200 backpack and matching sleeping bag ($4400) that she had carefully smudged up. “I wanted something more real. I found it amongst honest people with beautiful dreams,” she said.

PIERRE explained he was an anthropologist criss-crossing the country, homeless everywhere, while studying the curious behavior of both the “unhoused” and the advocates who made money working on their behalf to make certain they remained unhoused so that paychecks would continue to flow to the advocates.

SUNBURST said she was a longtime drug addict and believed there was no better place on earth to obtain pharmaceuticals and other medications. Also, she said, she liked the medical care and detox options at homeless shelters.

SLOTMAN had been a reporter at the Cleveland Press; when the newspaper died he experimented with drinking, then depression, and now had a contract for a book called “Homeless: America’s Planned Crisis.” All he needed was a photographer, but who wants to roam camps snapping pictures?

The feast disbanded around 8 o’clock. Mr. B and Trixie, feeling both exhausted and energized at their successful contribution to Making the World a Better Place, trundled off to bed. They congratulated one another; “The Worst that Could Happen” didn’t. They slept well.

Friday morning Mr. B lumbered downstairs feeling pretty dang good over the successful Thanksgiving feast. He hit the “On” button, the machine burbled, and he noticed a yellow sticky note on his coffee cup.

“Dear Mom & Dad,” it said. “I decided to use the camera you bought me for my birthday and accompany Slotman around the country helping him with his book. It’s all good. Luv ya both!” Hugo.”

Bob Bumpers, startled, looked up to see another note on the counter. “Don’t want you to worry but I’ll be going to North Dakota with Sunburst to meet her family and help her get into a program. At last my life has purpose!” It was from eldest daughter Talluhla.

Taped to the fridge, a note from Barley: “Pierre can get me a scholarship, full ride!—in anthropology at the Institute of Toodle in Australia if I help him in his anthropological studies. I’ll be in touch.”

Another, from Weegee the youngest: “I’m so happy! Paris gave me keys to her house in Beverly Hills! I audition at her uncle’s talent agency Friday!”

And crumpled on the floor, a wadded up note: “Help Boris taking hostage me Russia Help!”

Then Millie came down for breakfast. She and Bob then talked about whether or not the worst that could happen, did.

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