A Story by R.Guy Behringer

Based on a recent event.


The young man sat at his aunt’s kitchen table watching a scene play out in front of him. A reporter was talking to his mother and his aunt about him, the video and the Syracuse coffee shop. Jeremy sat quietly in the small yellow room, not wanting to participate or not knowing how.

“He prefers to live outside.” his aunt said. Jeremy’s mother looks over at her son. Their eyes meet. She screws her face up in a kind of sad smile. An attempt to hold back tears, but it fails. She nods in agreement with her sister.

Jeremy’s mother took a job out of town over a year ago. When she heard her son had been sleeping on the church steps she begged him to stay with her. Jeremy did stay with his mother for a few weeks but then went back to Syracuse and the life he had outdoors.

“The only time I talk to people is when I talk to my family.” the young man says.

Jeremy suffers from schizophrenia, his family explains.

“I like to call my mom and tell her Goodnight.” he says, looking at the interviewer.

That’s why he was in the coffee shop that evening. Jeremy had come into the, normally friendly, establishment to charge his phone.

“I wasn’t sleeping.” he said referring to that night.

“I just laid my head down while I waited for my phone to charge.” he continued.

His mother said he was deprived of oxygen when he was born, leaving Jeremy with mental and physical struggles. Among these, epilepsy, a learning disorder and schizophrenia.

“Jeremy had dreams of being an artist.” his mother said, placing her hand over his.

“He was bullied in school.” his aunt added.

Last Sunday night a video was uploaded to Youtube. The reaction was immediate and opposite of what the employees of the coffee shop had expected.

Most nights Jeremy gets his meals from Samaritan Center and then finds a place to charge his phone so that he can tell his mother he’s okay and goodnight. That’s when one employee videoed another dumping a bucket of cold water over him. The employee stayed in the frame watching the reaction of the homeless young man as he just tried to shake off the water and leave the store. The only sounds in the video are the employees laughter.

“He probably had some personal problems and needed someone to talk to.”

“And took it out on someone like me.” Jeremy said.

National studies show that one third of the total homeless population suffer from some type of mental illness.

“I look forward to the afternoon, when it’s warm.” Jeremy says.

© 2018 R.Guy Behringer

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Added on October 2, 2018
Last Updated on October 2, 2018
Tags: Life, Homelessness, mental illness


R.Guy Behringer
R.Guy Behringer

Lincoln, CA

I'm a retired truck driver, married and a father of three grown sons, two pit bulls and one red heeler. I like to play guitar, build and rebuild rifles, hunt wild boar, Fishing, camping, gardening and.. more..