Tabatha Deans

Bringing Integrity to the Written Word

Holy Hail!

It was another scorching day in Denver. Thankfully I spent the day inside the air-conditioned donation center, and reluctantly left the cool comfort to begin my journey home for the day. The temperatures had come down a little as the clouds rolled in, and I was enjoying the change as I stood on Monaco waiting for the 65 bus. Clad in shorts and a tank top, I began to worry a little as the clouds got darker and the bus officially became late. Summer storms can roll in quickly, and I cursed myself for having switched bags and not putting my rain jacket in the bag I was now carrying. As the first rain drop fell it became a race against time. If the bus showed up immediately, I would still have time to make it to the Hampden light rail station, where there was a tunnel and shelter from the rain. A young girl with big hair joined me under the tree as we waited for the bus, and just as the rain began to really fall we saw the bus pulling up to the light.

Less than a quarter mile down the road the rain turned to hail, and within a half mile the hail was the size of my thumb. The pounding on the top of the bus sounded like the ice balls would come right through, and outside the scene was a white out, but with hail so thick we couldn’t see. The hail grew bigger and bigger, and the bus driver began pulling over to pick people up who were not waiting at the bus stop, but were just trying to get out of the brutal hail. One woman was dressed only in a small sun dress, and when we stopped for her she was crying and nearly hysterical. We stopped to pick up two women, one older and one with special needs. They had several suitcases and a rolling cart. As soon as the driver opened the doors two male passengers jumped off the bus and rushed out into the storm to help the women with their luggage.

The sound was unlike anything I had ever heard before, and as a collective people we were all stunned and unsure of what to do as we pulled into the station. Other travelers boarded with looks of fear and dismay, and one gentleman was rubbing his shoulder where the hail had hit him. We all had a hard decision to make. Should we get off the bus? Or just stay on it and keep riding around until it stopped. Myself and another young man decided to make a run for it. We had a few yards of open space, then down two flights of stairs, and at the bottom was a tunnel where we could take refuge to wait for the train. He looked at me and I looked at him and together we ran off the bus.

And Holy Hail! The first few seconds were not that bad, but then I felt the chunks of ice hit my shoulders and the back of my legs. It was a searing hot pain where they hit, and some of them were jagged so I was sure they were tearing through my flesh. Halfway down the stairs I regretted my decision. As I hit the bottom of the stairs and the entryway to the tunnel, it was like a scene out of a horror show. Dozens of people were standing just inside the tunnel, ankle deep in water and hail. They encouraged us as we ran toward them, and the masses parted to let the newest refugees into the space of safety. Some of them had looks of sympathy for us on their faces, while others clearly thought we were fools. An older man offered me his handkerchief to dry off with, and as I wiped down my arms I noticed huge red welts where I had been hit. Others gathered around to tend to our wounds, or more accurately to see the damage.

We huddled in the tunnel as the carnage continued above us, the sound was so loud we couldn’t hear each other speak. Body language was all we had to communicate. I saw young men helping the elderly people, and business men huddling with the families and little children. Two people had taken up post at the top of the stairs, and hollered down to us below whenever a train came along. As soon as they announced the E line to Lincoln was pulling up, myself and dozens of others ran up the stairs to board the train. Once again safe and moving in the direction of home, we laughed and shared our horror stories with those on the train. Despite the welts and one small scrape on my leg, it was a great experience to see my fellow humans come together, especially after all the violence that has occurred in the world lately. There was no race, sex or age in that tunnel. There were only people. People being beaten and held hostage by hail.

Amazingly, as is common in Colorado, when I hopped off the train at the Arapahoe station to wait for Robert, the sun was shining and the only reminder of my harrowing ordeal was the sweet smell of wet earth and warm summer sun.

July 16, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Shame on Me

It is a common occurrence when venturing to downtown Denver to be repeatedly asked for money by panhandlers. When I lived downtown the first person who asked me usually ended up with the little change I had in my pocket. I used to write profiles of homeless people who were vendors for the Denver Voice newspaper, so I have come to not judge anyone, since many of their circumstances were tragic and unavoidable. There are of course always a few youngsters who are clearly on the streets because they can’t be bothered to get a job, or are living “free” like America promised them.

This day was no different. I was headed to Longmont to spend the day with Jess and Petra, and boarded the free mall shuttle to take me to Union Station, where I would catch the L bus. The shuttle has a row of seats that run along the back, allowing riders to look toward the front of the shuttle. I took a seat near the back, but along the side, and made myself comfortable. Shortly into the ride, an older man who was sitting in the back seat, looked directly at me and I prepared myself for my defensive response.

“Do you have anything to eat?” He asked quietly.

“I’m sorry, I don’t,” I responded automatically. He gave the tiniest nod and looked away.

The problem was I DID have something to eat. I had a whole lunch bag full of homemade pizza with chicken and artichoke toppings. I had an entire baggy full of fresh grapes, and I had a couple of cookies and a yogurt. I had plenty of food, and it certainly wasn’t the only food I would have access to that day.

I felt horrible. I watched as he lowered his head to his chest and appeared to fall asleep. He hadn’t asked me for cash. He had only asked me for the most basic of human needs–food. I tried to remember the last time I was hungry. It was a few weeks ago, and I was certain I would faint doing the most mundane tasks around the house if I went another moment without food. I wondered if sleeping abated the pains of an empty stomach, as I watched him and fought back tears. His clothes were mostly clean, as well as his gray hair and face. He didn’t appear to be homeless, perhaps he was just hungry.

Even after these thoughts, I am ashamed to admit that I still debated at all whether or not to give him some food. I thought about what I was willing to part with. The pizza was not that great, but was homemade and looked impressive. The grapes are natural fruit, so that seemed like the best idea. The yogurt and cookies I intended to share with Petra so I ruled them out.

I continued to watch him until we were two stops away from Union Station. Sad and ashamed, I moved into the seat next to him, and pulled the pizza out of my lunch bag. I touched his hand lightly and he lifted his head, opened his eyes and looked at me. They were the watery, cloudy eyes of an old man, like those of my grandfather. I fought back tears and tried not to think about what circumstances had brought this man to the point of asking for food from strangers.

“I have some homemade pizza,” I handed him the bag. “I’m not the best cook, but it’s fresh.”

He took the bag eagerly, and carefully opened the ziploc.

“Thank you, it looks really good.” He took a bite and looked at me with those watery eyes, and praised me as if I had just served him some filet mignon. I was a fine cook, he said, in between bites, which he truly savored–I like to think it was really delicious, and not just his extreme hunger that fueled his compliments.

We chatted as he ate a piece of pizza, then it was time to get off the shuttle. He thanked me again and disappeared into the crowd.



April 21, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments


It’s that time of year again. Downtown Denver fills up for two days of partying, with streets blocked off and thousands of party-goers wandering the streets, listening to music, and drinking. Lots and lots of drinking. Whenever there’s a major event downtown, there is a huge contribution of “hot lunches” up and down the streets. Hot lunch is the term transit drivers use when someone throws up on their bus or train. “That jerk left a hot lunch on my bus/train.” Needless to say, I was not necessarily looking forward to my trip home Sunday.
I had worked all day, and preferred to avoid going downtown at all, but desperately needed to check my mail and see if the maintenance guy had installed an air conditioner in my apartment yet. Jess was in Boulder so I intended to pop in, change my clothes, maybe lounge in front of the air conditioner until it cooled down, and listen to the goings-on of the revelers in the alley way. I noticed something was not quite right as I approached my neighborhood. Hundreds of people filled the streets, wandering and looking bewildered. Many of them were thoroughly drunk and jovial, so I navigated through them and into my apartment building.
The problem was obvious. There was no power. Only the emergency exit lights were lit, and the air inside was stifling. Even worse in my apartment, since I have the corner with two windows. The heat was unbearable, and everyone on the street was going from bar to bar, to store, looking for someone who could serve them without power. Apparently everything is run on power, because I heard a lot of complaining from the angry drunks. I quickly changed my clothes, ditched my bike, and headed back toward the bus to work my way to the cooler temperatures of the suburbs.
I made it to Colfax before the inevitable happened. Now I don’t know what it is about gay men, but on several occasions one has stopped me on the street. Today was no exception.
“Oh, hey, pretty lady. You wanna come have a shot with us at X-Bar?” The stranger was a young man, quite attractive, with a young woman with him.
“Oh, you should totally come have a shot with us,” she said. I had never laid eyes on these two, but they were hell-bent on becoming my new friend. As I always do when this happens to me, which, in retrospect, is kind of a lot, I told them I was going to check things out downtown but might catch them later.
“Then look for us at Vinyl. That’s where the party’s going.” They said, disappointed and thinking in their drunk minds that their new friend totally planned on showing up.
I made it to Broadway before I realized the buses would be re-routed because of the road closures. I sat on the edge of the fountain at Colfax and Broadway, sipped my cold water, and pondered my choices. I try to be open-minded when it comes to LGBT communities, but I am always perplexed at Pridefest. The uniform of choice for many young men are simply their underwear and rainbow suspenders. Some get more elaborate, adding boas, chains or harnesses. But its clear that nudity, as much as is allowed by law, is the common theme for many attendees. I also spent a good amount of time trying to figure out the sex of some of the attendees. Not so I could judge them, but just so I could know. Young men look just like young women, young women look like young men, and some I genuinely have no idea what sex they were.
After too much time pondering, I decided to suck it up and use a fresh transit pass, and headed for the train station. It was the path of least resistance, and as the afternoon went on the sound of more hot lunches being deposited increased. The train was full of partyers, dressed in all manner of near-nakedness. Some plump, some thin, all nationalities, all ages. It was definitely sensory overload, especially because I still couldn’t determine the sex of some of them.
Maybe not having a sex is becoming a new breed of person. Why do we need to dress like one or the other? My mind wandered. Then they got on. We all saw them as we pulled up to the station, and we all tried not to state as they boarded our car.
I believe the tall one was a girl, but aside from her long, smooth legs I have no other reason to think that. I decided more he than she, so I’ll call her him/he. He was pencil-think, had multi-colored hair that hung in his face, with piercings in his nose and lip, and tattoos showing on every inch of skin that was exposed. He wore tight pants with tears all over them, and a tight rainbow shirt with buttons, pins and tears in it. In his right hand he held the end of a dog leash. Attached to the end of the least was a slightly plump young woman. The leash was connected to a collar around her neck, and they played up the scenario as they entered the train. She stood still and waited for him to tug the leash before she followed him onto the train and up to the front seat. He sat down, and she stood until he gave her the command to sit. She joined him on the seat, sitting straight and silent. He gave her a compliment and petted her head, and she relaxed into his lap.
There was a suburban family sitting next to me, a mother, father and teenage son. They smiled and whispered to each other, trying to be respectful but curious about the couple. The couple had taken a seat next to two young girls, who wore short shorts and bikini tops, who, until the arrival of the others, had stolen the attention of the car by making out and grinding on each other. As soon as the other couple sat down, the young girls whispered and giggled, then got up and moved to the back of the car, leaving the odd couple alone in the front.
The odd couple cuddled, and since they were facing me, I couldn’t hear what they said, but I could see their eyes. They seemed small and insignificant, at the mercy of the cruel world around them. He laid his head on her shoulder, and he suddenly seemed tired and weary. She held his head gently, bracing him up when he closed his eyes. She was his only shelter and defense from the outside world. They kissed and fondled each other inappropriately for a public place, and I couldn’t decide if they were truly tormented and ignorant of the rest of us, hiding in the dark minds of each other. Or if they were fully aware of the effect they were having on the rest of us, and were enjoying their silent F*** You to the world they hated.

June 19, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I will turn this train around…


     Unbeknownst to me, today would be the beginning of a string of unusual events, nothing serious in retrospect, but just a few days of hilarious insanity. It began with the books locking me out of the room. Here I must attempt to describe, in a bit of a technical manner, the layout of the donation center. It was originally a tanning salon, built as the lifelong dream of a man whom I choose to believe was a wonderful man. He ultimately suffered a heart attack in the center and lay dead for quite some time before anyone discovered his body. Anyway, the office has a large receiving area, then a long hallway with small rooms on each side where tanning beds were located. The walls separating each room don’t reach all the way to the ceiling. With about a four foot gap over each wall, one can easily climb over and between the rooms.

     I had received about a dozen boxes of books, which I stacked mostly securely in one of the rooms. Not securely as I thought, apparently, because as I was working in the front I heard the familiar sound of boxes shifting. I figured it was a small box of decorations I had thrown to the top of the pile, and was frighteningly surprised when I heard the roar of many boxes falling, followed by the slamming of a door. I rushed back to see what was the matter, only to find the door closed and unmoving when I pushed on it. The boxes of books had toppled and spilled against the inside of the door, and no matter how hard I pushed it wouldn’t budge.

     I stood perplexed for a few minutes, angry at first, but after realizing the absurdity of being locked out of a room by inanimate objects, I couldn’t help but laugh. I got the big ladder from the storage room and peeked over the wall, and sure enough there were dozens of books scattered along the floor and against the door. I lowered myself into the room, feeling very much like a cat burglar, and cleared the doorway. I stacked the books in much shorter piles this time.

    The day continued to be busy, but I avoided any further fiasco. I headed downtown to my apartment. The train was full of an odd mix of riders for a weekday. Of course school is out for some students, so there were quite a few young people. There must have been a play or convention as well, because middle aged and older riders took up the rest of the seats. We traveled one stop down the line, and realized the doors were not closing as quickly as they usually do after picking up passengers. A courteous voice sounded over the intercom.

     “If you are standing in a doorway, please step further into the train to allow the doors to close.”

     The doors are automated, so if you hold them open or hold the button down, the doors on all the cars remain open and the train can’t move. It’s not uncommon for someone to hold the door open while the rest of their party buys tickets or runs to catch the train.

     Still the doors remained open. The next voice from above was not a polite automated voice. It was that of a live, frustrated conductor.

     “Move away from the doors so I can close them!” Still no movement. “You are holding up every person on this train! It is not their fault you weren’t prepared! Get away from the doors!”

    We all looked around for the offending party. They were not on our car, all the doors were clear. The train finally began moving, but the conductor was not to be so easily appeased.

     “You just made some of these people miss their connecting buses. Because you were inconsiderate and not prepared. They are mad at you.”

     The couple next to me started laughing, and looks of question and giggles ran rampant throughout the train.

     “Is this for real?” One young man asked, looking around the car. “Are we being punked?”

     The voice came over the intercom one last time, and I was glad I was not on the car with the door offender.

     “You should all be making them give you cab fare for holding up the train and being rude and selfish!”

     I think we were all pretty relieved to reach California Street and get off the train

June 5, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 1 Comment