Every day when I wake up, I open the curtains and check my backyard for any items that may be missing or moved. Since the attempted theft in spring, and at least one trespasser in June, I feel paranoid. I don’t have a shed or garage, and there isn’t much in my yard that would be convertible to quick cash as far as I can tell.
I always take a quick walk around the yard as there are plenty of areas that are not visible from my windows. I don’t want a stranger camping out or worse.
The bad area behind the convenience store is of special concern. Despite the compliance order from Property Standards, which finally got them to clean up the area in June, no gate has been made to block off the area. Within days they stacked plastic soft drink pallets there, and garbage has been slowly accumulating again. This area continues to be used as a urinal, which is disgusting and stinks. I can see between the boards at the corner, by the chainlink post. Some personal belongings in shopping bags have been stashed there then disappeared a few days later. I have found at least one stolen/ditched debit card, slipped under the fence into my yard. My biggest concern is that someone is going to overdose there, who won’t be discovered for days. The staff does not check this area at all, despite the record of ongoing issues.
One morning it appeared there were some cloth bags stashed back there. When I checked a few hours later, they were still there. I could only see the texture of the dark grey material, and that they were new overnight.
I did some errands in the area, but decided on my return back that I should take a closer look.
The bags turned out to be a human form, slumped into a contorted position on top of some of the pallets. One leg was thrust outwards, with the full weight of the body on top of it. A hood was over the face, so I couldn’t see any features. I said loudly “Are you okay ?” There was no response. I repeated myself. Again, no response. I reached out to the foot in a running shoe and shook it. It wasn’t stiff like rigor mortis, but that didn’t mean anything. The ankle’s color looked yellowish. I watched to see if there was any movement. None. I couldn’t tell if this person was breathing or not.
I didn’t know what to do, so I ran into the convenience store, the first time I had ever set foot in it. There was a customer and the staff was talking on the phone behind the cash register. I said “You have to call 911 – there’s an unresponsive person behind the store.” They looked at me with a confused expression, so I repeated myself. The staff person asked where, so I told her. The customer followed me out while the staff called 911. The customer, a woman, started shouting at the form and managed to make the person stir. The staff person came out while on the phone with 911. 911 said that if the person was responsive, that they wouldn’t come. The staff person asked me to stand by the door so no one could enter the store – apparently she was the only person working. The form turned out to be a woman. She rose into a sitting position and began vomiting. The staff returned to the store with the customer, then went back out again and spoke to the woman who had seemed lifeless. Somehow she was able to walk and left.
I recognized her as a troublesome street person, prone to violent yelling outbursts. Earlier this summer I had witnessed her having a shouting argument with her much older boyfriend behind the factory dumpster. I watched quietly, but when he balled up his fists to punch her I started screaming at him from my side of the fence. He seemed surprised to be observed and moved away from her. I had also seen them having a similar interaction in front of the library and near the senior’s center. Whatever I felt personally about her didn’t mean that I would think it acceptable for her to die behind the convenience store.
She must have been to the pop-up market run by the Community Resource Center at the library, the day before. They offer local produce for cheap or free. There was a torn bag by where she had been sprawled, with a couple of fresh cobs of corn, some potatoes and a tomato.
Three weeks later the vegetables are still where they fell, now rotting and pissed on.
Sept. 2, 2021.