There was a time when she enjoyed seeing them in her office. Those were the days when she could get them a hot lunch and a shave. But those days were long gone. Now, she might point them to one of them in the direction of a fleeting bed in a halfway house, but that was about all she could do. It was heartbreaking in a town like this, when so many of them came to make their fortunes and ended up on the street.
She used to think that she could do something to change things by handing out sandwiches and hygiene kits at the shelter at night, paying for them out of her meager salary, but the men told her different.
“It’s nothing against you, ma’am.” They’d say respectfully, “We appreciate what you’re doing for us, but we don’t need food. We need a place to sleep at night where can feel safe.”
She couldn’t argue with that. Feeling safe was important while you sleep.
So she gave them somewhere safe to sleep.
She bought a old car, a old house, got herself a new life in a place where no one would moniter her comings or going. She didn’t have family to worry about her, so living a life on the streets wasn’t something that they’d question. She spent her nights at home, sure, but during the day, she pulled on a cap and pushed her shopping cart, talking to the same people she’d tried to help–but this time as an equal. She found out who was sick and who was getting better, and made a note of it in her files–she kept the files she’d made as a social worker, kept her access by working on Saturdays and drawing her pension. Every now and then, she’d hear a name–someone who was ready to give up, but the man wouldn’t let do so. EMS kept picking him up when he was passed out on the sidewalks, thinking that night would be his last. They’d take him to the hospital and they’d pump him full of meds and food and fluids and send him out to try again.
Well, with her help, they didn’t have to try again.
She did her research. Found out ways that you could poison someone so that no questions would be asked. And a street person? No one would care if you chopped them up with a chainsaw and left the parts around the city. Only that would be cruel.
She made friends on the street. Handed them a sandwich and a warm blanket, sat besides them as they ate and the poison took hold of their body. Held their hand as they drifted off into sleep, and kept passersby from calling 911 until she was sure they were dead. Then she vanished into the darkness and let the police take care of things. It was kinder this way.