Behind the main skyscraper of CTC industries, a young homeless woman slept. She appeared comfortable, lying on top of a pile of cardboard boxes, beneath a pile of magazines and newspapers. She was not supposed to be here, however.
A young security guard came out and gave her a gentle nudge with his foot. “Sorry, miss. I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to leave the area.” The woman bolted to an upright position, still half in a dream state. “NOOOOOOOO!!! Where are they?! Who?! What?! AAAGGHHH!!” She swung her head left, didn’t find what she was looking for, then swung it to the right, then up, then down. Her eyes seemed like they were about to shake loose from their sockets.
The security guard patiently waited for the homeless woman to come to her senses. He stood still as a statue, not twitching a single muscle in his face. He had spent some time practicing standing perfectly still for hours at a time. When he was a child he had dreamed of becoming a guard at Buckingham Palace, only for that dream to be dashed by his lack of Britishness. In time, he hoped to create a tradition of stoicism amongst security guards in the States. He had only had this job for two months, but his ability to keep calm in potentially dangerous situations had already become a legend with the other security guards at the company. Or so he was told. The other guys may not have been entirely serious when they told him about that part. If he was a less dedicated security guard, thoughts like that would have caused him to wipe sweat off his forehead or shuffle his feet nervously. Not this security guard, however. Economy of movement was a way of life for him.
The homeless woman finally stopped gibbering and looked up at the statue standing patiently in front of her. “I’m sorry, sir. I… I just have nowhere else to go.”
This security guard was not an uncompassionate man, but he did have to do his job. “Miss, there are plenty of spaces behind plenty of other buildings all over town. This one is off limits.”
The woman lurched at the security guard and grabbed his shirt. In an instant, the security guard assessed the woman’s strength and determined how to support her weight with the least amount of movement. To the untrained eye, he would have appeared perfectly still while this happened. “You don’t understand! This is… or was… my home. I’ve lived here all my life.” Enough tears poured down her face to end a drought.
A look of puzzlement and confusion failed to appear on the security guard’s face. He was, however, extremely confused. Surely she didn’t mean she had spent all her life in a back alley behind a skyscraper. Rationalizations raced through his head until he came to the conclusion that she was simply crazy. “Well, you don’t live here anymore, come on.”
More tears poured down the desperate woman’s face. A small reservoir which in the right hands could have provided the water needs for a small village began forming around her feet. “Where? I don’t even exists anymore. I went to the police, and they found no record of me, my house, or anyone in my neighborhood. Nobody even remembered that there used to be houses here. I’ve been erased!”
The security guard was beginning to think that this woman’s case of the crazies was going to affect his ability to not move. This was quickly turning into the challenge of a lifetime. “I don’t know about any of that, miss. I just know that you have to go somewhere else. Otherwise I will have to call the police.”
The woman began to beat her fists against the security guard’s chest out of desperation. His shirt became soaked with her tears. “Please, please. Talk to the police. Talk to the people who have lived here a long time. Something very, very wrong is going on here and nobody seems to notice. All the people who used to live here are gone. My children disappeared. I thought I saw one of them, little Bobby, last week but it turned out to be a forty year old man. I’ve got no one to turn to!” The woman ungracefully slid down the security guard’s torso and curled up in a ball around his feet, drenching herself in the puddle of her own tears.
The security guard knelt down and patted the young woman on the head. This was completely out of character for him, and broke exactly sixty-two of his own personal rules, as detailed in a notebook he had kept since he was a child. “If I look into this, will you get out of here? There’s a homeless shelter three blocks down on Broadway. They’ll get you some food, and hopefully a place to sleep, and maybe even some work. I’ll even check in with you from time to time and let you know how my investigation is going. Does that work for you?”
The homeless woman attempted to stop crying. She sniffed. “Yes, thank you, thank you, thank you. Are you really going to investigate what’s going on here? Promise?”
As he escorted the young homeless woman off the premises, the security guard contemplated just ignoring the whole incident and not pursuing the ravings of this lunatic any further. After all, he had simply done what he had to do. But his sense of honor and duty got the better of him. He had made a deal with her. He had made a promise, and security guard Carl Snyder never broke his promises.