Thursday 15th Feb - 12:30am
After the food van had disappeared for the night, I walked back up to the Steps, and sat down. Looking across the open walkway I saw Bandak, an indigenous man sitting on the ground, drinking and yelling at people as they walked by. He was right out just before the crossing lights, where the crowds had to surge around him to get by to the station. Occasionally someone would stop and give him some change, or a cigarette. He was a stocky fellow, with the darkest, most dense, black bushy beard I had seen yet. I also recognized him as the drunk indigenous guy that had welcomed me on the first night I had arrived on the steps. And I also recognized him as the guy who had whacked Dougy over the head with with a bottle, on the steps, a couple of weeks ago. I hadn't seen him around very often but when I did he was always quick to violence (or threats), usually without any provocation or reason. For that reason he was the other person (besides Gary) that I felt nervous around. I decided to head across to the meeting place, and he asked me "Buddy, can you help me out with some change?" I dropped a 20 cent coin into his pile. It was small but the chime of the coin hitting the others appeased him, and I was able to move on.
Across the other side I met Lindel, a street community icon, that comes in on weekends and sits with his dead cat (taxidermy) and becomes a central gathering point for peaceful conversation. Then I went over to the other side of the road and sat near Pete, another indigenous community regular I had not yet met. He was with a lady and soon they drove away in a car that pulled up, and I saw on the bench the lady had left her sunglasses behind. I picked them up and stored them in my bag, to give to Pete when I next saw him.
Back on Lindel's side, three or four others including Bandok were sitting there talking. Suddenly Bandok got angry and started to argue with Lindel. Bandok got on his feet and was yelling "I'll kill you! I'll pick you up and throw you through this window!" and Lindel still sitting was protesting "I didn't mean to upset you, I am a peaceful person and don't like violence." Everyone else just sat and didn't interfear. Bandok, still yelling threats, started swinging and I think one of his punches may have landed, at which point he stops swinging and then sits down. Some more talk of peace from Lindel and he accepts it, and sits there silently.
Not long after I came across and sat with the group for a few hours. Around 5am everyone got up (except Bandok) and decided to head off. I got up too and thought about leaving, but I saw Bandok sitting there and thought that's what Bandok is probably used to, everyone abandoning him with no one willing to risk sitting with him alone. What would Jesus do? He would probably take the opportunity to sit down with him when no one else would. And so I sat down next to him. After a few minutes of silence he said to me "Did you just call me a dickhead?" Uh Oh.. this might be the start of something.. I replied "No, I just want peace" and he seemed ok with that and nodded off to sleep, and slumped against my shoulder.
As I sat there with him leaning against me, I realized I was probably unable to move away without waking him up, but he might sleep for hours, so what to do? A few minutes later some cops came along and woke him up, saying "you can't sleep here" and we had to move along. I got up relieved that the situation had been resolved. As we walked away from the cops Bandok came after me and grabbed my arm. He said "Thanks for staying with me, no one else did and you didn't have to do that." He shook my hand three times in the process and also said "your welcome to come and talk to me anytime" before he walked away, and I was left a little stunned.