too warm. Summers inside are unbearable. Once, after he and my niecereturned from fishing, they found a litter of newborn kittens on the concrete floor tangled in one of the sheets. The heat had gotten to them, andthough my niece rushed them to the vet, they couldn’t be saved.
The trailer’s screen door slams shut, and the man and woman headacross the street.
“You need to get your things and leave,” I call after them.
They keep walking. Helplessly, I watch them cross the Starbucksparking lot past the dumpster and drive-thru intercom, then go aroundthe corner.
Around the same time the trailer was abandoned, the local newspaperran a two-part series on homelessness. My hometown of Lewiston, Idaho,shares the Snake River with Clarkston, Washington (population seventhousand), our twin cities named after Lewis and Clark’s 1805 overnightstop on their journey west. The paper interviewed two men unable to findshelter because of their substance abuse problems. “If the communitycould band together to pull off a project like a skate park,” one of the mensaid, “it should do something to help the area’s homeless population.”But one year later, the same month the woman moved into the trailer,the ROC Rescue Mission closed. For six years, the mission provided hotfood, clothing, and a winter warming center for people in need. They hadplans to build two shelters, one for men and one for women, but whenthe organization couldn’t reach its funding goals, it decided to pull out.In an interview with the paper, the Rescue Mission’s chairman noted,“This community is pretty sleepy, if not asleep, about the homeless population.” One of the homeless men who spoke to the paper said he oncegot so cold that he spent the night in the back seat of someone’s unlockedcar. It was inevitable that someone would move into the trailer.
Two days later, Monday morning. I haven’t heard from the police, so I goby the trailer. The woman’s bags still fill the rear window. I drive acrossthe street to the Starbucks parking lot and call the police. The dispatcherassures me they’re on their way.
After Saturday, I’m hesitant to believe her. “When will they get here?”
“Soon. They’re in the neighborhood.”
I wait at Starbucks. I don’t want to face the woman alone. Five min-
utes later, I see a police car pull up to the property, so I head back over.
The officer gets out. Another police vehicle, an SUV with three officers,
parks behind him.