"Cleanup Crew" - Chapter One, part 1 / by D.M. Jerman

We called ourselves "The Cleanup Crew".

We'd go out on duty early early morning & late at night. Always 2, sometimes 3 of us. 1 or 2 to hold back the homeless person, or subdue them with a taser, the other to dump out their "belongings", and sort them into either usables or recyclables. Some homeless were quite patient, and they'd just watch us pull out plastic bags and jesus tracts one from the next.
"Duty" was always educational and we did it to help people. We only had to kill one person, and that's a long story for later.
Sometimes we'd get their good things down to one bag- show it to them & give it back. One man we took to an all night diner & listened to him over coffee for nearly four hours. He was early on, and I think we saved both our lives.. again, another story for a bit later.
Mini Van bumper sticker soccer mom came thru once and got her business in ours, other than that we'd be pretty discreet and move locales if we had to.
Inspiration for the beginning of the cleanup crew began with Mina.

We'd moved into the neighborhood from another part of the city and it wasn't a week before we saw her- big puffy new bright red coat at the beginning of fall when everyone was still out sporting shorts. She'd mill around the pizza place up the block when outdoors and we'd constantly see her passing the downstairs window.
Jake gave her chow from time to time even tho' she wasn't asking for it, or even asking for money. She'd smile & nod and talk to herself- a mumblespeech which was sometimes animated with ticks and retorts from imaginary friends. Her silent, profound emoting led us to believe that maybe she was an actress in another life.
She was off the street at night, but we could only guess at where she slept.
Two months pass, and we see her with a greater and greater infrequency, to the point of our thinking maybe she'd been arrested. Each time we spy her she seems sad. Stooped with disappointment. Dirty and downturned in the mouth. Then the baggage.
Each one bigger than the last and filled with a large amount of detritus. Then we'd see her sleeping on the street with a trail of trash leading up to her. She'd become this stinking eyesore you could find anywhere without looking very hard.
She passed out on our doorstep early one evening in December during a first snow and we knew something must be done immediately...