by Bruce Rowe
coffee, gone cold, in a paper cup
He shuffles down 4th street, taking no more than a few inches per step.
His skin is leathered and brown. He is clothed in light brown khaki’s and a frayed green flight jacket.
He shuffles his way to a nook in a doorway, 3830 4th Street, and slumps down to rest from his long travels.
He draws a cigarette from a coat pocket and illuminates the unfiltered end with shaking hands.
Sunspots decorate his alopecic scalp where hair once adorned.
His beard is white and long, tousled and unkempt.
He observes pedestrians meander by, himself going unnoticed.
After a space of time, two sonatas, and one ballad from my radio, he slowly rises to his unsure but steady feet.
He drops his cigarette on the sidewalk, charred to the filter. With two clumsy steps extinguishes it with the sole of his tattered shoe.
He appears to scuff his way toward my vehicle. I look down to read the book I held…or at least pretend to.
After a few small steps, he turns back to the store from where he rested. Relief and shame overwhelm me.
He makes it to the clear store window. In the clean glass, he sees his reflection.
He brushes the surface of his ragged locks and beard with his soiled fingers.
Tears well in my eyes.
He slowly turns in a new direction, shuffling on his way, smiling.
There he goes…a child of God.
About the author
Bruce lives in southern California and has self-published. He is now seeking to have short stories, poems and flash stories published.
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