The roar of trucks pounding above his head is gone. No more highway overpass for a roof.
A group of carpenters of a sort -- who would tell you they are just doing what the most famous carpenter of all taught them -- have found Bubba a roof.
And some walls. And some secondhand furniture, lights and heat and food.
Roger Rabon -- "Bubba" to the world that for so long chose to see through his face lined with dirt and booze -- has an apartment.
Right there in the senior citizen apartments at the old Highland textile mill, where you have to be at least 62, and he is exactly that. Many of those years are lost to the bottle. But Monday, three days into his new apartment, Rabon was sober, and he smiled a lot.
Because the only sound was warm air blowing through vents.
Rabon had been drunk when these people found him a few days before New Year's Eve along Cherry Road under an Interstate 77 overpass. The Herald ran a front-page story a few days later, complete with a picture of Rabon camped out under the highway. The story was about the people who refused to see past, around or through Bubba Rabon.
A pastor, the Rev. C.T. Kirk, who was helping with the Rev. Ronal King's group called Christians Feed The Hungry, found Rabon and helped get him in a motel that first night. Rabon stayed 43 days.
"Jesus never took a census, he just stepped out on faith," Kirk said about that most famous of all carpenters. "We are not doing anything less than Jesus Christ would do for this man."
Money for the room and food came from the pockets of Kirk and a lady named Essie Fielder, and two more ladies named Stephanie Chaney and Michelle Perry. Some other people and nonprofit organizations helped.
For the past seven weeks, this little group that never met this man before that cold night in December gave their energy and time and love.
"My mother and my two secretaries," joked Rabon about the three ladies. "My new family. Proud to have that family, I can tell you."
Finding Rabon under the bridge was the easy part. Finding him a life took real work.
This group needed no city taxpayer-funded consultant to help the homeless man in front of them. They needed no focus group, no office.
Kirk did so much -- food, transportation, clothes. The United Way helped, as did the Salvation Army and Oakland Baptist Church. This group asked everybody they knew.
Some people and organizations didn't want to help after that first story because Rabon ran his mouth. He said he used money from some government check to buy his King Cobra malt liquor.
"There was no check," Kirk said. "He was drunk when he said it."
"There was no money, zero, coming in for Bubba," Perry said.
Rabon nodded. The guy who, when sober, had worked as a painter, admitted he has said a few things when blasted that were not exactly how things really are. The booze was his escape from all that reality.
But this group acted anyway.
Fielder did as much cooking and running around as she could. She's the enforcer. She would tolerate no more of Rabon's panhandling for money, then blowing the cash on beer.
"I told him from the first, 'We will not take care of you if you continue to drink,'" Fielder said.
Rabon likes his beer and is the first to tell you. "I started drinkin' at 14, and there were days I drank eight quarts in a day." He now gets a half-bottle of beer a day.
The goal is no beer. Substance abuse help, sometime soon.
"We understand he is an alcoholic," Perry said.
Yet, the roof had to come before no beer.
Perry, who works in the financial world, worked to find the apartment. She spent her time, her own money, and found help from a couple of nonprofit groups.
Chaney, also in finance, worked with social service agencies to get Rabon the meager Social Security benefits for which he has been able to qualify -- $118 a month. He gets food stamps. He got a state identification card to prove he exists instead of being a shadow, with the rats, under the overpass.
His infected feet have healed. Another doctor visit is today.
"I'm working now on getting him on Medicare," Chaney said.
The rent is $400. In six months, it goes up. Where will it come from?
"Us," Chaney said. "And anybody who helps. Until we can get him qualified for other assistance."
Sidney Rabon, Bubba's younger brother, found him after the new year. Bubba Rabon now is not estranged from all his blood.
"My brother," Sidney Rabon said Monday in Bubba's apartment. Now, Sidney knows where his brother lives and can help some, too.
Bubba Rabon is starting -- again this morning, because it is up to him and nobody else -- another day not drunk in the cold under a bridge.
"Ain't goin' back to no bridge no more," he said.
He sat Monday in a recliner that is not new. Nobody cared. Especially him.
"Home," he said. "Three nights."
His new family will visit the apartment often. They are still working on the stuff that can make walls smaller instead of a cage: dishes, a bed, all of the stuff not found under bridges.
"We are not going anywhere," Perry said. "This is not the end, but just the beginning."
No judgments by these people.
"Bubba is our family now," Chaney said. "The time for people giving out a dollar for a hamburger is gone. Help needs to be real -- and last."
Family without condition, except for sobriety.
"We want to get him back in the mainstream of life," Fielder said. "It's going to take time. It will take money we get from ourselves, when we don't even have it. But it takes love, more than anything."
Love from a family minding Rabon's business.
"I'm glad they are pokin' their noses right in," Rabon said.
This little group of people at Rabon's new apartment said they have been able to assist three other families in the last seven weeks, too.
Hammer-less carpenters finding housing. Food. A few dollars for somebody to survive on.
"I'll tell you what Bubba found, what they all found," Kirk said. "We all found it.
Want to Help?
Christians Feed The HungryCall the Rev. Ronal King, 803-417-388, or the Rev. C.T. Kirk, 803-524-5935
The Haven Men’s ShelterA permanent, 14-bed site on Archive Street in Rock Hill. Write to: P.O. Box 10653, Rock Hill, SC 29731
Salvation Army Warming Center Open for nights under 38 degrees, 119 Charlotte Ave., Rock Hill, 803-324-5141
New Beginnings Baptist Church Homeless shelter, 706 Old North Main St., Clover, 803-222-5005