"I think these children of God are going to be OK," Nathaniel says. "They're going to sleep and dream, like human beings do."
Should I be more assertive, I wonder, in trying to steer Nathaniel out of skid row and into a residential program? Wouldn't a little arm-twisting be more humane than leaving him here on the streets, where decades of horrendous public policy have created a colony of lost souls?
As he prepares his bed, Nathaniel plays the gracious host and offers me his dairy crate.
"You can rest on there and put your head against the cart," he says.
Before he crawls under the covers, he has a comment.
"I love to think about musicians," he says. "I can imagine Mozart or Beethoven sitting in a room up there with the light on. They hunger and thirst like we do. It's angelic."
He sounds exhausted, but has one last thing to say.
"I hope you rest well, Mr. Lopez. I hope the whole world rests well."
Reach the columnist at email@example.com and read previous columns at latimes.com/lopez