Friday, August 05, 2005

He spotted me from across the street. I gave a polite wave and quickly continued on my way knowing my super power for attracting crazies. Sadly, my powers extend beyond attracting crazies. Sometimes I draw toward me sad and lost characters. This was one of them. He hurried to catch up to me, calling for me as he made his way across the street. I was caught. I stopped and turned to what could be a quick and harmless request for change or a difficult dialogue with a dangerous stranger. He chatted with me amiably. “Y’alright, pal?” He concealed a can of butane in his coat sleeve. Only the red nozzle extended beyond the dirtied fabric. When we shook hands he gracefully pushed it further up his sleeve in an unseen motion and it fell back into the ready position when we withdrew our hands. Through out our chat he would sip from the nozzle like a child sipping at a milkshake, but instead of chocolate malt he was swallowing awful chemicals that gave the flesh of his face a sickly green pallor. He spoke about needing to take his medication, asked for water, mentioned his need for change, he gave best wishes, and we said our goodbyes. During our dialogue I kept asking questions to myself. Do we know each other? Did he recognize me from somewhere and I am being forgetful? What happened to make him lose his way so terribly? Is there happiness for him, somewhere, sometime, eventually? How thin is the divide that separated my choices, which saved me from such a fate from having shared it? It’s comfortable to think ‘that could never happen to me’, but I am not so sure. One should never confuse luck with providence.

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