I was an old man, living in a very old abandoned house. It was more of a shack really, consisting mainly of one large room with crumbling wallpaper and gas lamp fixtures mounted on the wall that were years out of use. There was a cot tucked away in a corner where I slept, and the rest of the room had been converted into a workshop of some sort. A roll-top desk, as well as several wooden tables, were stacked with books, sheet music, maps, charts, and various measuring instruments. A white lily bloomed in a jar, stimulated by a mild electrical current. There was no furnace in the house, and my only source of heat and light was a fireplace which had the springs and gears from a broken clock scattered on the mantle. I had only the contents of the room to fuel the fire. I spent the winter nights deliberating about which books and papers I could spare to keep me alive.
On one such occasion, as I crouched in the dark, I could hear the officers’ muffled voices outside. They were taunting and threatening to arrest another homeless man that I knew who was a friend of mine. I heard the thud and tired groan as he stumbled into the snowbank, followed by the cops’ laughing as they hauled him up. I felt compelled to respond to this. I stirred in my damp hole, but then a strange hand, more prudent than my own, reached out of the dark and covered my mouth, preventing me from calling out. If I came to the defense of another homeless man, I would be giving myself away.