Today started like any other. People started to come to the unit shortly after 6, and the kettle was working over time to keep up with orders of coffee and tea. It was turning out to be a fun day! Pastor Dave came by and told us it was his birthday, so after he left, Doug started to scheme a way to throw him a surprise Birthday Party.
While a group of us were hanging in the shade of the unit visiting after church, a man came by and asked if there was any work he could do for us in return for sweets. Andrew told him he could pick up some garbage that was around our unit, and I went in and loaded up a bag of food and treats for him. His name was Shannon. When he found out Doug was running into town to get a Birthday Cake and ice cream for the Pastor’s birthday, he asked if he could tag along and go dumpster diving for food at one of the deli’s in town. I guess every two hours they throw away hamburgers, hot dogs, corn dogs and such, but put them in a sealed plastic bag so the homeless can gather then up and feed themselves and others. Andrew nodded that he felt Doug would be safe with Shannon, so he agreed.
Before he left he told us he had moved his camp down to a woman by the name of Jennifer, who had a broken leg and needed care. He asked if we had any water that he could take to her so she would be Ok until he returned. For days he had been cooking for her, carrying her out to use the bathroom and trying hard to be patient with her when she was constantly screaming in pain. Shannon himself was a tweeker. He admitted it and was so ashamed that he had such a hard time giving it up. I gave him a couple of bottles of Gateraide that he ran over to her before they left.
When they were gone, Pastor went to the camp and called an ambulance. He was able to convince her to accept medical help, until the medic made a fatal mistake. As they were loading her into the ambulance, he asked if she was on any drugs. Boom! All heck broke out and she refused service. If the medic had of asked her when he had her at the hospital, they would have been able to keep her against her will because she mental unstable and in no condition to decide what was in her best interests. We were all saddened that she refused to go.
After Doug returned, we visited with Shannon for a while, and he opened a garbage bag of hamburgers, corn dogs and such to share with everyone. Anyone who passed was offered the chance to dig in and take what ever they needed. Then he agreed to go on video and share some of his stories. I think I got four of them and you really have to go and watch them when Doug gets them posted soon. He is a rapper. And talk about gifted! His tale of his childhood and the atrocities he has experienced will help you see why he ended up in the slab. Behind the Meth, was a man who loved God, had dreams, and regrets. Doug and I took to Shannon quickly. We really liked him. And straight up, this guy was a mess. His heart, however was genuine and gentle.
Around four we gathered everyone together and invited people from near by camps to come for cake and ice cream. I video taped the event which you can see shortly. We were having the time of our lives. Everyone was laughing, we all had a great time, and the ice cream was like offering someone a million dollars. Ice cream in the desert. Who would have thought? Wow!
Our fantastic day was soon ground to a sudden and horrific halt.
Shannon had taken two pieces of cake. One for himself and one for Jennifer. When you watch the video, you will see him beaming ear to ear as he walked away with such a wonderful treat for him and Jennifer to share.
Within a few minutes, we all heard the screaming and wailing! We walked outside of the tent to see Shannon making his way back with two plates of cake and melted ice cream in his hands, and he was hysterical.
He was yelling at the top of his lungs….. “she’s dead….she’s dead…. her body is blue……help….help!” Doug ran over with George who had medical training from the army, and in the meantime Pastor called for an ambulance. By the time they got there a sheriff was on site and told Doug and George to leave. He would not allow them to attempt CPR.
About an hour and a half later, the coroner arrived, and after some time at the camp, they took Jennifer away. All the time I was trying to calm down Shannon and assure him it was not his fault for leaving her alone for the three hours that he had. He was such a basket case, and our hearts were broken for him.
Shortly after the coroner pulled away, the masses of vultures moved in on the camp, and Shannon spent the night swinging baseball bats to keep everyone from taking her belongings. I have never seen such a thing in my life.
I’ll leave it at that for now, but please keep an eye out for the videos we will be loading. I know you will be deeply touched by the messages Shannon shared with us earlier that day.