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Jenean McBrearty | Hearts and trains

Except for the spindly woman in the yellow pantsuit dragging a wheeled suitcase draped with a purse, San Diego’s Santa Fe station was deserted. Occasionally, a pre-dawn breeze gusted through the open doors bringing with it the faint scent of sea salt and street steam. Michael watched the stranger grimace, but he didn’t find the wait unpleasant. The pungent odors, the echo from the domed roof, the red cement slab […]

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Mitch Toews | The Toboggan Run

Hart’s breath hangs in the air around his head and the sunshine makes splinters of floating ice into glinting flashes, gone in an instant. His long woolen scarf, creased canvas parka and red toque are all hoary with frost. Heavy leather work mitts, wet and steaming, cover his hands. After first laying out a winding trail in the snow and marking its course with twigs, he sets to stamping and […]

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Gerald Stanek

Gerald Stanek | Exile

“So what’s your story?” “My story?” “Yes. How did you end up here?” “Haven’t I always been here?” “You know what I mean.” “Yes, but you know my story,” I reminded, “Everyone’s got their tale of woe.” “Tell me yours.” “Whatever for?” I protested. “Mine’s no different than anyone else’s.” “It’s important that you speak it.” “I’d prefer not to perpetuate it.” And I meant it. It seemed like a […]

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J. Weintraub | Mr. Ledbetter misses his stop

When Mr. Ledbetter staggered into our southbound Red Line train and announced for anyone aboard to hear, “I want to get off at Harrison, somebody let me know when we get to Harrison,” I had a pretty good idea where he was headed. Standing on South State Street between Harrison and Polk,  the Pacific Garden Mission had ministered to the needs of Chicago’s down-and-out and destitute for over eighty years […]

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