Last night, Ann and I helped out a family a little. They’d just moved from Seattle on a Greyhound bus. They had the name and number of someone who was supposed to meet them and take them to an apartment. He never showed; when they called, the number was disconnected. They walked to the rescue mission. The rescue mission doesn’t accept women or children. The only shelter in the city that does was full. They walked to a police station. The police told them they couldn’t have a motel voucher since it wasn’t cold enough, and it wasn’t snowing. They came up to us outside our apartment. We gave them a lift to the grocery store and helped them get some food and some money for a room. When we dropped them off, I gave them my phone number.
“The first three digits are 666,” I said, “Number of the beast.”
“That’s bad luck.”
“Yeah, it is.”
On the way back home, we got a little turned around. They’ve been building up new apartments all around where we live. They just finished a complex a block away, and it still hasn’t quite sunk into the city. It still looks strange and alien and not all there, like maybe it’s a backdrop for a movie someone’s filming, and when they’re finished they’ll kick out the two-by-fours and carry the fake brick sheets off to a back lot somewhere. It’s draped with a huge NOW LEASING sign, though, and the windows are open so you can see inside. All the lights in the building are on full, showing off six stories of bright, clean apartments. Empty, to a one.