A young man wearing a short-sleeve shirt and dark pants – a missionary’s uniform – stands swaying on the corner outside my building. His eyes are closed and there’s a Bible tucked under one arm.
A leathery sun-burnt guy in loose clothes and sandals sits outside the coffee shop leafing through a computer printout – an unruled grid of two digit numbers.
A girl with a self-help type library book open on the counter in front of her.
A student-type underlining passages in a Plato anthology with a mechanical pencil, flipping through thin whispery pages. He introduces himself pointedly and I’m distracted by a balloon bunch rising from a nearby car lot – three helium balloons tied together and spread out into a spinning “Y”.
(An increasing caffeine edge as I approach the day’s sixth cup of tea.)
One woman outside has a scar gouged out of the dragon tattoo on her arm. She spends several minutes handling a packet of rolling tobacco, before walking off briefly and returning with a pack of Camels. A little girl, who’s with her, eats sunflower seeds from a tube-shaped package. Quick little sparrows hop around among their legs and pick through the sunflower seed gristle.
The Plato reader later mentions his friend Charles, who he’d been talking to while I was buried in my reading. Some background details line up and we piece together that he’s a common acquaintance. “His face is like an English King’s.” Now I’m fairly sure that the last few times I’ve seen Charles, I’ve called him Jeremy.