Scene: Pandora's livingroom couch. Bernie Sanders voice is in the air saying, "Enough with the Emails! We need to focus on the important issues at hand, the huge wage gap, income gap, education gap." Pandora is listening intently.
Cut to: Bar, small urban town. 2 hours later. It's packed. Everyone's white. Pandora orders Perseco with her caesar salad (no croutons) and tomato basil soup. Light snacks and drinks with girlfriend: $40.
Cut to: Pandora at New Jersey Transit automated kiosk, buying 2 roundtrip tickets into New York City, 1 hour later. Total: $56.
Cut to: Pandora and girlfriend grabbing a cab down to the West Village. Total: $13
Cut to: Pandora and girlfriend grabbing a meal at a local eatery, wine, pasta, dinner Total: $78
Cut to: Pandora and girlfriend walking into a hip, dimly lit club -- door, drinks: $60
Cut to: Pandora and girlfriend walking into the foyer of the New Brunswick train station, 1:45 am, to get some drinks from Dunkin' Donuts. Mid conversation about the obnoxious, drunk passengers on the NJ Transit train back to NJ
Cut to: Shock on Pandora's face. Sudden stop mid sentence. Looking around.
Cut to: Scan over nine homeless men and women laid out on cardboard on the floor, some with blankets, some without, all with their faces covered to block the bright light from Dunkin' Donuts and the train station. Sounds of snoring, rustling. The hands that are visible are black hands.
Cut to: One homeless man, standing, hunched over a window sill, apparently sleeping.
Cut to: One homeless woman, sitting in a chair, leaning on the wall, apparently sleeping.
Cut to: Pandora and girlfriend ordering drinks from Dunkin' Donuts in a hushed whisper, the DD employee responds in a hushed whisper: $4.75
Cut to: Pandora and girlfriend walking home in silence.
Cut to: Next day, Pandora on couch listening to more of the debate. Hillary Clinton's voice rings out, "We have got to get control of Wall Street. My five point plan is the toughest of anyone's on this stage. It calls for fines and for those who abuse our economic system and that they go to jail." Bernie Sander's voice parries, "You say Congress controls Wall Street, I say Wall Street controls Congress."
Cut to: Pandora at her kitchen table, adding up receipts from the night before: Total: $251.75
Cut to: Pandora wrapped in a warm hoodie with slippers on, out on her balcony, feeling the cold autumn air. She says to no one, "41 degrees. At least those nine are inside tonight. But what of the others? Who is going to fix this atrocity?"
They were laid out, in a row, neatly, evenly spaced
Their bodies covered in layers and layers of rags -
The cold air that had been such a relief to me
Drove them indoors to this vestibule where it was (somewhat) safe?
They had blankets and towels over their faces
They were still
They looked like bodies of the dead, the fallen, the collateral damage
Of our dysfunction as a nation
Nine of them.
How many apartments and condos lay empty in our little city on this too cold night?
How had each of these human beings come to sleep on this floor, this floor, this floor
I have crossed so many thousands of times to get to where I'm going
This floor. Is. Their. Bed.
I feel guilty. I feel enraged. I feel responsible. I feel helpless. I feel ignorant.
There are people. People. Sleeping. On the Train Station Floor.
Even though it's been about 24 hours since I saw them there
I'm still in despair and feeling shock,
Not like I'm new. I'm not new. I know there are homeless in our city.
But something about them lined up all neat like that
And the hushed tones of the Dunkin' Donut's customers and it's employee -
Like out of respect for them sleeping, sure
But also like, it's natural that they should be sleeping there? What?
I'm still stunned.
When I thaw, I will act.
But for today, I am stunned.