Monday, November 07, 2005

Seven minutes to write

Computer is back! I've missed you all...
Rain today. It acts on me like springtime after a long winter - I'm alert to every scent, every sound. It's dark now when I bus home from work, and lights shine back at me from puddled water on the street. I take a different route home, walk the last few blocks, passing restaurants, their light shining out into the street, people inside dry and warm, moving slowly in the light, a tall blond man in the taqueria looks out the window, he's Stan Laurel, stretched. His enormous flat blue eyes pick me out in the dark, trying to slip silently by, raindrops scattering out from my umbrella.

Another block, the curry place, the naan maker grins suddenly out at me, flattening dough on his hand. I wave. In the next doorway, a man sits on the ground, I've seen him before, he's blind, always on one corner or another, empty cup by his knee, wishing passersby a good day.

At the corner, the doughnut shop, a man in a knit cap looks stunned, staring down at his coffee, skin pale in the flickering light.

I stand at the corner and think about the blind guy a few steps back. I see him more than any other neighbor, but I've never met him. The rain's turned me soft. I turn around and go back.

I kneel down, saying hello, shamefacedly handing him what I dig out of my wallet, introducing myself.

"I'm Francis," he says.

"It's good to meet you, Francis."

He holds out his hand, a little high and to the right. I reach up to take his hand and shake it. The dirt lodged so deeply in his wrinkles, they're pure black lines, like his face was scribbled with a marker, but his hand is warm, not as rough as it looks. One eye nearly closed, the other, hazel, wandering off to one side. I realize I'm kneeling in water.

I get up, something fatuous dribbling out of my mouth, "Take care," like I'm his mother, "it's cold out..."

"Yeah," he laughs, "It is, a bit."

No shit, lady, he must be thinking. Thanks for pointing out the obvious.


Geo said...

What an awkward life this is!

Bones said...

Better a fatuous comment than being invisible.