“Homeless shelter!” Jessie couldn’t keep the incredulity out of her voice.
“We’ve been volunteering over there for the last few months,” Murrow supplied. “It’s an unconventional form of direct action, we know. That’s only because most of society is willing to discard and forget the downtrodden. We know they’re our brothers and sisters in this cause. They wouldn’t be in the position they’re in if it weren’t for the big corporations creating a society where they have no place.”
Murrow, Jessie thought, was kind of sexy when he got all fiery like that. He also seemed to have a good heart. If Jessie remembered correctly he was one of the anarchists, and didn’t have any magical talent. “Have you recruited anyone yet?”
“The bigger a plant grows the smaller the seed it starts from.”
Beside Jessie, Alexander gave a small grunt. She looked over. He was as relaxed as he could get while still seated and belted in; his legs were stretched into the open space by the van’s door, his head was against the window and his eyes were closed. It wasn’t the posture of a man looking to nurture a small seed.
Yet he was there. What did that say about the group? Perhaps it meant Allison had a firm hold on them and she supported the idea. Perhaps there was more going on than was initially obvious. Jessie would have to keep her eyes open.
* * *
Kyle had never been to a homeless shelter before. He was okay with that in terms of never having been homeless. He did feel a bit of guilt that it took magical anarchists to get him to volunteer to help out at one though.
The building was about what he would have expected had he bothered to form expectations. It was a rather dull and slightly run down place. The ceiling was acoustic tile, the floor linoleum, and the walls were painted in such an ugly color of green it seemed likely it had been chosen specifically to be unattractive. The room they’d be serving food in was about 50 feet by 50 feet. Not really very large by most standards, but just big enough to look under-furnished as all it contained was a bunch of folding tables and chairs and cafeteria style food service carts.
There was also an odd smell to the room. Kyle didn’t want his anarchist-inspired good deeds to be wiped out by uncharitable thoughts but the smell was a lot like urine or must or something else unpleasant and unwashed, and he was pretty sure it had come from some of the more poorly maintained clients of the shelter.
As they entered the building most of the Children peeled off to take up various jobs. Kyle and Jessie, uncertain what they were supposed to be doing, stopped. Alison stopped with them. She flashed her bright smile at the two, managing to comfort and encourage them in the same gesture.
“You guys won’t get the new volunteer talk, because our group has been here before, but don’t worry about that. It’s all very simple. We’re here to help serve the noon meal. In your case, that means literally dishing it up. In a few minutes they’ll start carrying food out of the back and setting it over there,” she gestured at the rolling carts, “you’ll get a spoon and then play cafeteria lady. It’s that easy. There’s another group, out of some church I think, that handles the cooking on our days and the shelter has a few permanent individuals that supervise us volunteers and handle anything truly complex. Simple, right?”
Kyle nodded. He noticed Jessie was wearing a slightly stiff expression. Perhaps she’d noticed something important. He’d have to ask later.
“The only really off-script thing that ever happens is someone comes in with… Well, a problem, and gets aggressive. If you see two people start to fight, or someone attempts to fight with you, or someone seems likely to hurt themselves, let another volunteer know immediately. Really, you can tell anyone, but the shelter staff will need to get involved so it’s best if you can grab one of them. I’m pretty sure Bridget and Ben, the double Bs, are working today. I’ll introduce you if I see one of them walk by, but Ben is an older, tall, thin man with glasses and Bridgette is heavy-set and short with curly brown hair. Really nice guys. Got it?”
They both nodded again.
“Alright, get out there and sling some hash!”