Thursday, August 11, 2005

The homeless man outside my office.

So, I work as a lowly admin assistant on the 6th floor of a building, in the ritziest part of town. Gucci across the street. Prada next door. Chanel on the other side. You get the picture. There's a homeless man outside most days, selling the "Outreach" newspaper. He's older, clean, with a deep tan. He has lines on his face, and a long wisp of white hair tied in a ponytail at the base of his neck. He stands perfectly straight and tall, barely sweating in the hot, humid weather. He seems noble somehow. Regal. His bearing has led me to create a story about him, a history for him. Something about him choosing not to be a part of the system. Something about him being highly educated, or unwilling to give in due to some higher morality. I don't know. Something like that. My friend and I smile at him most days, and from time to time, she will give him a few dollars to get something to eat. He's been a constant fixture for the last 2 years.

In the last few weeks though, he's been missing. He showed up one day, after being gone for a week, stooped over with a black eye. He told us that someone had beaten him up for his alcohol, and that "his disease," was really getting the better of him. Turns out he has cancer. After that, he disappeared again for 10 days. My friend and I asked each other every day, "did you see him? Finally, he reappeared yesterday. Stooped over again, shaking, trembling, holding onto his "Outreach" papers with one hand, and his back with the other. We stopped to see how he was doing, and learned that he had been in the hospital. That he took 30 pills a day. That the doctors had told him he wouldn't make it much longer. That he had checked himself out, because he didn't want to die in the hospital. And that he was going fishing. On Thursday. He put his hand over his heart, and told us about how fishing was his favorite thing in the world. That he wished he could explain how it made him feel. To be fishing. How it gave him peace. And that he didn't expect to come back.

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