Monday, November 18, 2013

Monday, November 18, 2013, 12:36 PM

I stood at the intersection waiting for the walk light. The man stood to my left, facing the highway off ramp. His back was to me but I could see he held a cardboard sign in his hands. He wore a corduroy jacket, worn at the elbows with the seams coming out and a black hat.  I did not see his face, but his hands appeared unwashed as did the hair that poked out from beneath his cap. At his feet lay a brown dog and a dirty green backpack that appeared to be packed full.

As cars whizzed past us on their way to downtown Portland a few slowed long enough to yell at the man through their open windows...

Get a fuckin' job asshole...”


One swerved as he made the extra effort to reach across the passenger seat to flip the bird at the man. With his middle finger pressed against the passenger window he bumped the curb before speeding on his way.

As I waited, I heard footsteps approaching from behind, an uneven shuffling gait. A voice, a bit gravely with a familiar New England accent, “Bruthah...hey bruthah.”

The footsteps shuffled past me and I saw that the voice belonged to an older man, with slate gray hair and a stubbly beard. He posture was bent and his flannel jacket many sizes too big. As he passed I caught the strong scent of stale body odor. He stepped closer to the man with the sign and tapped him on the shoulder.

“Hey bruthah...”

The man with the sign turned. The older man reached out and took the sign man's hand turning it palm up and I heard the unmistakable clink and jingle of change. The coins filled the younger man's hand and a few spilled on the ground.

“Here ya go bruthah. I ate at the kitchen today and they gave me dinnah in a bag,” he paused to straighten up and pat his bulging jacket pocket, “So I don't need this today. It's all yours bruthah.”

The older man patted the younger man on the shoulder then turned and started back the way he came. The light changed and I crossed the street continuing my journey to school.

The End

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