'Fish' is in a pickle.
He's homeless, he's cold, has nowhere to sit for more than a few minutes , no cash in his pockets, hasn't had a shave in two weeks or food for two days, or any sleep, and it's Christmas time.
Fish isn't his real name, he got that moniker because in the past couple of years he has fallen into the Hillsborough River after being overserved five times, and had to be fished out by the Tampa Fire Department.
And for the past year he has been feeling the squeeze put on by the Tampa Police, The Tampa City Council, business owners who have grown tired of the mess around Gaslight Square Park, and just plain folk who were just as weary of having to trudge through what one referred to as 'the gauntlet' of homeless spread all around the benches and walkways which had been taken over by the Kool Kids Corner of that beautiful downtown park.
In addition, the papers have been full of the scandals surrounding Homeless (Ha!) Recovery, The Good Samaritan, and other agencies filled with Public Serpents who have been charged with the care of people like Fish can't seem catch a break.
And where many of the downtown homeless people were once able to eke out a living by hanging out all day in the park and panhandling between tokes and snorts etc., and then drift off to their 'hidey holes' for some rest, they now must exist in the shadows, and avoid the park as many of them have been thrown into jail of late for trespassing and panhandling and other charges which come along with the joy of being free spirits.
Even the United States Post Office is piling on.
Just last spring, the General Delivery address was moved from right downdown on Ashley Drive to way up there in Ybor City.
A long walk when your shoes are shot to hell.
And a favorite dining place, the storied Trinity Cafe has also been moved way far from Florida Avenue to Nebraska Avenue. Another long trek.
Even the Hillsborough County Public Library folks have chimed in with more indiginities.
Where once before, one could amble up to the third floor of the library where one could watch movies and cartoons for hours and read the the papers and eat lunch real loud, now the computer section has been moved to a much smaller space.
Alas! No more afternoons spent reading Shakespeare and Auden and the New York Times.
And here is Fish. huddled on a park bench outside the McDonald's on Kennedy Boulevard, trying to think of his next move one step ahead of the ever alert TPD..on their bikes and horseys no less.
And we think, well, heck it's Christmas time, and so we hand Fish a gift card from the Publix just across the street.
And he grins. And we grin in return, and just hope he will get something to eat.
Just please, Fish.....stay away from the Hillsborough River this time.