return across the street to the parking meter she lived by. Some days she would repeat her baptism five or six times.
Most homeless people manage to find shelter at night under bridges and in abandoned buildings. Jennifer slept out in the open, under a blanket, on the street corner opposite the clinic. Every night the police chased away the homeless hoping to sleep under the overhang in front of the shelter. Only Jennifer remained nearby. I believe the police were afraid of her. She was so emaciated that, if she pulled her blanket over her head, there was no visible evidence of a human being under the blanket. She looked like an abandoned crumpled blanket on the street corner next to a parking meter. I worried that a truck or bus would misjudge its turn, not care about running over an old blanket, and traumatically end Jennifer’s life. From this debris a human being arose each morning and repeated her ritual. If it rained, Jennifer would take her blanket and move under the overhang of the clinic until the rain passed. She was the only one the police never hassled when it rained.
The clinic and the adjacent shelter were Jennifer’s protection. A security guard watched over her during the day and most of the night. The Brothers of the Good Shepherd, who ran the shelter, gave her breakfast and dinner. Although the shelter was officially for men only, on the few cold nights each year they would take her into the vacant clinic and allow her to sleep in the waiting room or on an examining table. I wish I had known about the shelter when Régis was alive. Brother Jack and Brother Harry would have protected him, too. They took in anyone, with no judgment passed.
Jennifer had been living on the streets as long as anyone working in the clinic could remember. She had good days and bad days. On her good days, she would wish me a good morning as I walked from the parking lot to the clinic and ask me for quarters. On her bad days, she would wander up and down First Avenue, oblivious to the traffic, answering in obscenities voices only she could hear.
She took no medicines for her schizophrenia or for her AIDS. Although the social workers tried to place her in various shelters, she