The Trial

As I dragged my case up the street I could see, even from a distance, the man gather himself. Maybe it was a quicker exercise than he expected, because I was still fifteen yards away when he said — not shouting, but with an invested intensity intended to carry the message down the hill:

I’m so f—ing scared.

The people at Shelter had asked him for his phone number. And he’d given it to them, in a moment of clarity. But now he could see this would allow them to fit it all together, particularly since he’d been on trial twice. Had I ever been on trial? That’s scary, too.

“Every hour, a family in Scotland loses their home.”

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He spoke with the conviction of paranoid schizophrenia. But even with my amateur diagnosis, I could see that there was little I could do or offer, other than gently listen for a few minutes in the hope he would feel less alone.

As the rain flattened my hair, the man took in the scene.

— Where are ye off tae?

America.

— You know, you’re the second person I’ve seen today, going to America.

But before he could put 2 + 2 together and lump me in with operatives at Shelter, he had another flash of clarity — the bedraggled figure who had been limping up the hill a minute ago was taking his broken case to the airport, somehow.

He perorated, and we wished each other the best of luck.

Pic from this article on corroboration in Scots law.

[Shelter Scotland is a charity that helps families struggling with bad housing and homelessness. You can learn more about it here.]

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