Friday, September 23, 2011

Pavement conversations

It's one of those streets where The Beautiful People hang out, seeing, being seen, strutting. We were just passing along it, on our way between food and movie, when we heard G's name being called from across the road, an old university friend of hers. Introductions, hand-shaking, behind a sun-aged face, deep beneath a life-filled-with-stories, kind but desperate eyes. I could see he'd been good-looking, once upon a time, in a place far away from this.

We walked together along the narrow pavement, dodging the open drain on the right, careful not to fall off the ledge on the left, into the 5-o'clock traffic filled with irate people in their tin can cars hurrying home to their suburban lives. I listened to their conversation, one of those catching up after ten years, skimming the surface, and watched his skinny frame as he nervously rubbed his hands together.

He lives on the mountain, in the mountain and was on his way into town to beg. He's been their for six months and says he always knew it was where he'd land. "I'm bipolar and an addict." Straight-forward, simple, the facts, laid bare like a slaughtered pig on the narrow pavement.

We separated at the corner, us to go further down the road into a warm, delicious-smelling little Italian place for dinner, him further into the city. He asked for money, I couldn't say no, and as we handed it to him I saw the monster behind him grin and rub its hands in glee, a dark alley filled with smacked up grins. I wish I'd given him food.


Kristin said...

I refused to give money tonight with little cash in my wallet; I almost went back and offered to buy food for the man on my credit card. It's always so hard, isn't it?

Shiny said...

Sheesh, hard, yes. Food is the way. It was just such an awkward moment but I hate that all I did was feed money to the demon.