Another installment of "The Invisible Ones" of Washington, DC
I saw James sitting on a bench at Dupont Circle on a busy weekday morning. He would simply call out to passers by that, "any help would be appreciated." As you can see James is an imposing figure both in size and because of the tattoo on his face. He is very dirty and in need of a shower and a clothing change. This may have contributed to people taking a wide path around him. I asked to join him on the bench and he moved over to make room. He is cooperative and affable.
James tells a bizarre story about how he came to be homeless in Washington, DC where he has been for a few months. He says that he and his girlfriend were riding freight train cars from Oregon enroute to Philadelphia to attend a music festival earlier in the Summer. He says his girlfriend fell off the train while it was stopped in DC and impaled herself on a piece of rebar. She has since been hospitalized at GW Hospital where she will need to stay for at least eleven more months. I told him I thought that it would be unusual for GW to keep a patient for that long and he just stared at me blankly. I cannot attest to the veracity of this story. James does not appear to be mentally ill or under the influence of any substances. When asked if he knew about the shelter system in DC he said that he stayed briefly at the CCNV shelter but had his backpack stolen so he has been in the park ever since. He says that because of his size and appearance people don't mess with him too much. It is for that same reason that James will not do well panhandling. He was agreeable to have his photo taken in exchange for a few dollars.