After the show…

they call your name. Once, twice, three times and you’re done. Somebody else takes your place.

Outside the wind is cold. The band moves out into the night. The audience heads in from the cold after a last cigarette. It’s not much. A cot and a few feet of space. No privacy really. If someone snores everyone knows. The chapel where the show had been turns into a large bedroom faster than the band can get its gear into the parking lot.

But its warm and tonight the wind is cold. They say its going to get below zero and they call your name, once, twice, three times. If you don’t respond you lose your place. There’s always another person without a place to go, another body in need of a bed. Jesus said that the poor would always be with us and this mission never closes, never has to post a “vacancy” sign, never runs short of lost men needing to be found.

In the end there were five left and three spaces. The names were placed in a bucket and two were left out in the cold. There was nothing that could be done. There are thousands of fancy hotel beds but only a few places for the men with long hair who live in the alleys during the day and sleep in missions during the night.

Right now I’m home. The show is over. My gear is all safely inside. I’ll be in bed shortly. Somewhere out there are two men and probably more, the ones whose names weren’t picked, trying to find a place to keep alive as the wind rolls in from the northwest and the temperature sinks.

Lord have mercy.


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