Market Street Mission
AUDIO: (click: hear the voice behind the words)
Market Street Mission
Mike died overnight at the Market Street Mission.
they stuck a shiv somewhere into the seven true ribs,
probably between rib 3 and 4.
Quietly his warm red blood
spilled across the cold floor –
through the thin mattress
which he had returned to each night
for the last week.
A gray wool blanket matted frozen to his chest
when Sam tried to awake him that morning.
No one looked too hard for a murderer –
70 men had come and gone that evening and morning
and each was capable of this act when the spirits moved them.
The police were casual for the same reason.
70 suspects and 70 witnesses each with the same address:
This place – the Market Street Mission – yet no place.
None of them were in,
literally and figuratively.
Even the innocent ones weren’t so innocent.
Few would be able to identify their first-name-only fellow travelers
despite the fact they shared the same haunts, day and night,
never really seeing each other.
As the medical examiner’s team lifted Mike onto the gurney
and loaded him into the black bag
something dropped from his clinched fist
which the officers should have discovered – if they cared to look.
Last night, as with every evening,
Mike slept clutching his Marworth medallion
just as he clutched his crucifix each evening as a young boy.
“Lord, Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change –
The courage to change the things I can-
And the wisdom to know the difference.”, read the inscription.
You see, no one freely chooses death when life and hope are an option.
Mike was a 5 timer –
Carrier, Alina Lodge, Caron and Marworth twice. –
The last time he got kicked out for wrapping himself in bandages
as would a sophomore in a college joke.
An airline pilot, he found the thread
that would weave his death in the Air Force in Afghanistan,
where, while burning off a field of mature Poppies
the aroma triggered a hidden gene he could not control –
later fed by the morphine administered to get him past the shrapnel.
Tonight his mother would cry again – but not over today’s death.
No one knew Mike’s last name
and with his last known address only: “Market Street Mission”,
they could not call her.
She had cried over his death a thousand times already,
the living passing away that took him.
She cried until the tears ran dry – and then she cried again.
A month later the Sergeant would find the fingerprint card
tossed aside in a stack of papers.
When submitted, it marked a hit
in the Department of Defense data base.
Someone notified his mother and dispatched a proper escort
with his Purple Heart,
which he had neglected to pick up, or tell anyone about.
The examiner’s attendant placed the Medallion back in his hand
and folded the fingers tightly.
With a little luck the coin would be overlooked and
he would be buried with it in the potter’s field.
When they exhumed the body at his mother’s request
her purple heart would shatter yet again
when the undertaker handed her
the medallion of hope Mike carried,
on the evening when all hope was finally snuffed out.
At 1 pm that afternoon Mr. KT awoke in the park 4 blocks away.
He casually ignored the blood on his hands.
He had seen it before, probably from scrounging around the
dumpster in back of a restaurant.
He stumbled to the water fountain, took a drink and began to scrub -
blood off his hands
and from his Marworth Medallion
which he had slept holding last night.
You see, no one freely chooses murder when life and hope
are an option.
When finished, he wondered what was for dinner that evening
at the Market Street Mission.