True Story: when you look across the street from my former house on Siesta Key you’re looking down a canal that is part of the Grand Canal system on the Key. Along the sides of the canal are homes. One belonged to a family of young boys with whom mine were friends. Next to them was a house we looked at to rent. It had never been updated and I couldn’t live with flowered wall paper and yellow appliances so we ended up in this house at the end of the canal. Next to that old house was an abandoned house owned by a divorcee. The house was in disrepair but she neither lived in it nor wanted to sell it because she didn’t want a penny to go to her ex-husband. So she held onto it.
Meanwhile, she had a friend, who we were told was a homeless man. Story goes he was a Vietnam Vet, very intelligent and educated from a good university. He didn’t work because he had government benefits and a trust supporting him. He didn’t want to own anything…except his bicycle. He needed a place to live so this divorcee said he could live in the carport of this particular house. An old car was parked in the driveway along with his bike and some cardboard boxes. Daily he would leave the carport on his bike, take the bus from Siesta Key to Sarasota, bike around town and end up at the library where he would read newspapers and various books. Sometimes he’d walk to the Village and return with a bag of groceries. He wore a scruffy hairstyle and a beard.
Neighbors, including our friends with children, would often call the police to monitor his behavior and try to get him out of the neighborhood. The police said he was there legally; he was a friend of the homeowner and had no record of lawbreaking. We were told that the police did make the homeowner allow him into the home for use of water (showers, drinks).
When we visited Sarasota this week we got together with our neighbors who told us the man had died. As one of the boys put it, “the hobo died.”