Passersby

  • 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.

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