Guernica Magazine

Mr. Rain Jacket

Homeless, solitary, and schizophrenic, my brother had nothing to shield him from everybody else. The post Mr. Rain Jacket appeared first on Guernica.
Illustration: Sarula Bao.

How my brother survived so long out on the street eludes me still. Much of it, I’m sure, had to do with his own strengths. Since adolescence, Tom had been deeply concerned with how to live, how to do right by others, how to be. He was quick to defend the weak, to tell you to stop being a jerk, to point out how you were being unfair. In illness, this solidified into a rigid and high-minded moral code to which he adhered strictly, and which seemed to be part of how he avoided encounters with people who could do him real harm.

It was not that he blended in. Aside from his odd demeanor, he carried a large backpack full of rocks—ordinary rocks, rocks that appealed to him, rocks he picked up and examined while walking the Coastal Trail. And for a while he wore a bright yellow fisherman’s raincoat that Dad had given him. I see it flashing like a semaphore through the summer of 2007. It pops up in his court records from that time: large yellow rain jacket; WMA w/ yellow rain jacket.

That summer his arrests were frequent, the charges diverse. He was picked up for having failed to complete, or even start, eighty-five hours of community work service required as part of a sentence for a previous charge. The work service was converted to jail time and Tom spent a couple of weeks locked up. The next arrest came after a man stepped out of his office to find Tom sitting behind the wheel of his parked Toyota. When the

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