Living on the edge

Danny Boyle and Gordon Williamson sit under a bridge in Sacramento waiting for the drizzle to let up, wondering why life is treating them so unfairly.

Danny had spent his early years  in Virginia and North Carolina. His favorite activity there was hunting and avoiding rangers.

Gordon grew up across the country, in a Stockton trailer park.

The two became acquainted at a homeless shelter in West Sacramento, from which they were subsequently evicted for sneaking in liquor.

Danny has been trying to rebound from a string of bad decisions and bad luck. Gordon’s role has been to listen sympathetically and offer advice and friendship.

A few days before, Danny had been booted out of his new wife’s tent near the American River after a four-hour honeymoon that came to an abrupt end when he passed out from their nuptial bottle of peppermint schnapps. He awoke to an eviction notice.

She wouldn’t even let him take the aluminum folding chair he’d enjoyed sitting in on nice days at their encampment.


After the rain stopped, the two men left the bridge and joined a couple of friends for coffee in a booth at a nearby MacDonalds and looked at their options.

As winter approached they were hoping to find lodging for the cold months, but the immediate need was a place to sleep that night. Danny said he hoped to connect with a fellow who’d offered the loan of a sleeping bag to to lay out under a plastic tarp.

“Better get with it,” said one of their friends as he clutched his hot coffee with chilled hands. “Supposed to be a good blow coming in that’ll feel like Alaska.

Danny thinks that in a few days he’ll be able to stay in a used tear-drop trailer if he’ll care for the owner’s golden retriever. Gordon is counting on being roommates with a woman he likes in a motor home on a nearby side street.

“It’s a lot of work being homeless,” said one of the men. And that’s for sure.

Every day, just finding a place to sleep at night and get out of the elements by day. Standing in line for a shelter, meal, medical care, shower. Finding clean water. Getting, carrying, protecting clothing, food, flashlight, pen and writing paper, a book or two, food for the dog if they have one, bandages, can opener, toothpaste, deodorant, athlete’s-foot medicine, maps, sleeping bag, plastic garbage bags, cup, eyeglasses and something clean to get the dust off them.

And enduring unfriendly looks mixed in with the kind ones, and their own dark and lonely periods.

Danny and Gordon and their friends do share enjoyable times, too. One evening near Christmas they walked over to an outdoor Theater of Lights held at Old Sacramento. The place was packed with excited families and costumed performers, including this colorful individual.


One thought on “Living on the edge

  1. Your posts indicate that you are a compassionate, concerned, loving human being. If only the size of your heart in what passes for reality was as large as it is in virtual reality, then every person without a warm place to sleep under the caring eye of a protector could bed down in your heart. Thank you for reminding me how blessed I am.


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