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Homeless people share their life stories: Rebecca, Andrew, Elle, Melissa and sk8r rat.

Homeless Man - Andrew's Story

Andrew was murdered while homeless. I've known him for ten years (since he was 14 years old).

Once arrested for tackling a statue of a cow? That's right, one of the charities was doing a fundraiser which involved placing statues of cows (life size) throughout the mall, later auctioning them after local identities had painted them.

With a flagon of goon (bag of cheap wine) in one hand, and a determination that for some reason he must battle with the beast. Andrew lined himself up to charge in and head but the cow.

He knocked himself clean out. While still unconscious, the cops had to pry the flagon from his grasp.

Then there was the customs beagle. One day he walked past a Ute (SUV with loading tray) parked in the city with a dog tied up in the tray. He said the poor little dog was whimpering and he decided to untie it so it was more comfortable.

Then, 'your honor,' the dog jumped out of the Ute and just started following me. What would have appeared to anyone other than customs officials as 'your garden variety pooch,' was in fact a highly trained drug sniffer dog.

Can you imagine a drug sniffer dog following a homeless guy around for a couple of weeks, interacting with dozens of drug users every day! God it was funny.

Needless to say, the judge found it hard to stop laughing and actually conduct the court hearing in full.

I think he got off very lightly for that one, simply for entertaining the judge so much. I mean how unlucky would you have to be to pick that dog!

The last time I saw Andrew before he died was on his birthday (New Year's Day). I pulled him aside and quietly gave him $50 and said - 'no drugs and don't get yourself arrested on your birthday.' He couldn't believe it. He looked at me with his eyes popping out of his head and said 'Shit! Thanks Dom.'

Had I of known Andrew would have later been killed (some time later in the new year), I wouldn't have handed him the $50, I would have walked with him to the pub and sat there for the day and shared his birthday with him.

Like so many people I have met on the streets, Andrew was put into foster care as an infant. He later went to school at Boystown, was constantly in and out of prison and lived on the streets in between.

I remember driving three hours one day to pick him up the day he was released from one prison, to the local pub for a counter meal and a beer, and then into the city where I dropped him off - back onto the streets again.

Andrew was telling me after being released from prison one time that he had been quite suicidal whilst inside. 'You know I've had a terrible life Dom. You know I've had some not nice things done to me and that the piss has been knocked out of me more often than someone could probably bear right.'

'Well you know I was going to kill myself for real. But you know what fucked it for me every time? You my brother.

I would be all fucked up about my life and trying to say 'your shit - no one loves you no one cares if you die,' but I couldn't because I knew it was a lie. I know you care about me Dom and I would just sit there and think of what you had said to me in the past and what you think of me and I couldn't kill myself.'

'Sucked in,' I said, 'serves you right for being so stupid. I'm glad I fucked it up for you.'

'I know brother, I know - thanks.' He said.

I remember over the years a number of times he said 'no one will come to my funeral.' So the day we gathered for his memorial at Newfarm Park, near the Brisbane River, I looked around at all the people who had gathered and just said 'I told you so bro, I told you so.'

Gangsta's Paradise was the song they played at his funeral and at the memorial service. Here are some lines from the song:

"death ain't nothing but a heartbeat away,
I'm living life, do or die, what can I say
I'm 23 now, but will I live to see 24
the way things are going I don't know"

The ten years of friendship with Andrew has been a real blessing for me.

My fondest memory though will be watching State of Origin football with him and screaming at eachother - he was a blues supporter and I am a Queenslander. We would get right up in eachother's face and I would scream 'Qweeen's-lan-daaaar!' and he would scream 'Go the Mighty Blues!'

Another night I remember him just laughing his head off at me when I was blowing my stack at another homeless guy who had grabbed one of the female volunteers on the bum.

Andrew was in stitches because the guy was about three times the size of me and pretty scary looking and I don't tend to mince my words or hide my feelings when someone disrespects one of my volunteers. Andrew was crying with laughter and just said: 'Your old school Dom, your old school!'

I was still a little hot under the collar but he got me smiling again.

Thank you for your friendship Andrew. I'll never forget you.

Andrew died at age 24. He had fathered 3 children, two were taken as infants into foster care - the same as Andrew.

From time to time, Andrew needed to cry – to weep. Sometimes we would talk before and sometimes we would talk after. Sometimes, there was no talking, no explanation needed, we would just embrace and he would cry. Remembering the times when I held him and he cried, and we didn’t talk, he just came for a hug and a cry. It’s very difficult to care for someone and be there for them while they suffer for so many years and finally for them to die… to be murdered.

Dominic Mapstone B.Soc.Wk
Rebeccas Community
dominic dot mapstone at gmail dot com

This song is for you mate: