The old one sat there on the edge of his bed, drinking his coffee, it should have been a joyous day. He had a housing voucher for his own place to live and that should have been enough to make him at least a little happy.
The man who slept across from him was asleep and snoring, and the disconnected voice announcing the name of some faceless creature to report to another creature boomed over the intercom system and the old one just sat there writing.
Change the old one wrote, he had grown use to prison, he had grown use to the 2100, and now he had a chance to get an apartment. He was apprehensive, he was uneasy about the future. At the shelter, the 2100, he was known to a few and unknown to many, he was one of the many, no one there cared about what he had done, or where he had come from. He, his shame, his embarrassment, his humiliation, was secure at the 2100. However, out there in the real world, in his own place, everyone around him would know his shame.
When people on the street saw him, all they saw was a man from the 2100, a bum, a homeless vagabond; he could handle those looks and stares, because none of those folks knew who he was or what he had done. However, a stare, a whisper from a neighbor, A whisper is that all it would take to crush him, more so, than he was now.
What was he to do? Contrary to popular beliefs, he cared very much, about what was said about him, he tried very hard not to show how the pain pierced his heart, made him anguish over his very own existence.
What was he to do? Should he take the next step, could he live with himself if he took that step or should he stay, where he was, where he knew his place, where he knew he was safe and untouchable.
He asked himself again, what was he to do? He shook his head and closed his eyes, the old one died a little more today just as he had done thousands of times before. He agonized over that very question.
He was surely unprepared, he thought, he wondered, how many others, were out there, some wore their shame as a decoration, a medal, a badge, the old one wore his shame, whereas the Ancient Mariner had worn an albatross around his neck, the old one wore an anchor around his.
Surely, there was another path he could follow; he looked for the paths, he looked for the signs that would point him in the direction he was to travel. Had he missed the sign that said, “Pay your fare, enter here, and travel the path less traveled.”
He thought about it for a long time, and then hung his head in shame; he put the voucher back in his pocket and headed back to where he felt he was safe. Not today, he would wait for another day before he headed out to find not only that elusive apartment but himself as well.