CUMBERLAND, Md. – A thin man stands outside the Union Rescue Mission. He pulls a pack of filterless cigarettes from the front pocket of his black winter coat and taps it on a gloved hand before reaching in, grabbing a smoke and lighting it.
He pulls a camouflage ball cap firmly down onto his ears as an icy gust of wind knifes between the old brick buildings along Queen City Pavement.
He's early. Or so he thinks: The mission's backdoor is locked. He appears to miss a sign on the door that reads, "All meals closed to the public!!! This is due to all the trouble and fights, sorry to those who are not the cause of this," as his painfully thin frame paces the sidewalk between the mission and a long-closed discount liquor store.
He looks old; he's likely not. Whether it is addiction, poverty or a dark sense of hopelessness that ails him, they all take the same toll: first your looks, then your virility, ultimately your potential and finally your soul.
The decision to suspend the rescue mission's public meal program for a week because of fighting and drug dealing was not taken lightly, according to Pastor David Ziler.