The day I met him had been one of those days.   And it had been raining, everything was wet, even the air.   I suppose that's why I noticed him, he was wet too.   In the small park that I passed every Wednesday on my way home from getting groceries for the week.   Sitting on the ground, leaned back against a tree, reading.   I saw him some moments before I was close enough to be noticed myself and felt pity stirring at his appearance.   There were so many more homeless in the city these days.   He wore faded jeans with holes in the knees, ragged sneaks on his bare feet.   His tee had not only seen better days but better years, thread had unraveled on the neck hem in places and it was so faded it was difficult to tell if it had been black at one time or always this slate shade of gray.   Some kind of screen printing on the front of it but the ink had cracked to the point that I didn't know if it had been a picture or words, there wasn't enough of it left to identify.   And he was younger than most that I saw living on the streets, at least around here.   But he was reading.   That was different.   Piqued my curiosity.   So that I was walking more slowly as I came abreast of his position and he sensed my passing evidently, looking up from the book.   Glanced first at me then at the bags of groceries I was carrying, and to my surprise closed the paperback and got to his feet, tucking the book into a back pocket as he said in a friendly tone "Here, let me help you carry those, they look heavy and like you need at least one more arm." I didn't respond immediately, couldn't, I was still dumbstruck, the simple act of getting to his feet had been pure poetry.. fluid, sensuous.   I blinked at him as he took two of the bags from me, leaving me with one, admittedly much easier to carry bag, the smallest of the three.   "Where are we going?" amusement glimmered in his eyes but didn't sound in his patient tone, and I finally found my voice "Just up the street, 2012 Norse."   Found my voice but not my mind apparently ; what was I doing telling this stranger - and a man at that - my address?   What was I doing?!   A man much bigger than I was, he was a bit over six feet and probably weighed one ninety.   A little extra weight maybe.. but with the way he moved he was carrying it easily enough. 

We walked along for several yards before he spoke "Beautiful day isn't it?"   I looked up at him, surprised again, and then looked around us at the rain water dripping off of the trees and running in the gutters, glistening on the painted metal of the cars parked along the street.   "Is it?" I returned in puzzlement ; he'd sounded perfectly serious and I didn't want to assume that he might be a few bricks shy of a load.   "I think so, rain is good, makes things grow.   And it's cooler than it was before it started."   That humor was in those eyes again, and I thought about them as he looked away up the street.   They'd looked brown but they weren't, they were actually hazel, a touch of moss in the dark sherry.   Shaking off the thought I answered slowly "Well yes I guess it does, doesn't it."   Glanced sideways at his wet clothing and added "And it is cooler."   He didn't look back at me but one corner of his mouth quirked.   Not quite a smile.   Maybe I hadn't lived in the city long enough, or I was just incautious but once we arrived at the basement apartment I lived in I invited him in for lunch, figuring it was the least I could do after he'd helped me get there.   He accepted the offer with grace, and nothing of the attitude I'd have expected from someone living hand to mouth on the street.   I'd been there a time or two myself, it didn't feel good and accepting offers of help, especially from strangers felt even worse sometimes.   But then I thought maybe he'd gotten past pride.   Eventually you had to if you were going to survive.   And lunch, soup and sandwiches, it wasn't the Ritz so maybe it was easier to take.   And we talked about quite a bit of nothing and a little bit of everything.   He was not only intelligent but quick and I wondered at myself for assuming as many probably did that he was homeless and therefore not exactly right on the ball.   Stereotypes.   Maybe it was the shaggy hair or the bushy, untrimmed beard.   Mountain man, another stereotype, hillbilly and slow for it.    I of all people knew better than that.   The noon hour passed into early afternoon and I didn't realize how many hours had passed until he stood up and stretched lazily "I guess I'd better go before I wear out my welcome."   Again his movement another near-mesmerizing act of poetry that robbed me of speech so that I just stared at him, a smoky little curl of heat unfurling in the pit of my stomach.   But I shook that off too, it had been long enough since I'd kept the company of men that I might feel that heat but I didn't have to act on it.   I followed him to the door feeling like there was something I should be saying, and he stepped out onto the little stoop and paused before starting up the steps to the sidewalk.   "Thank you."   "No, thank you for helping me home with the groceries.   I appreciate it."   He stared at me for a long moment before he said "You don't know who I am do you?" the amusement clear in his voice this time as well, and a little wonderment in the tone.   Puzzled I stared up at him "I'm sorry.. should I?"   His brows knitted as I added "I haven't lived here very long, I hardly know anyone, I work here at home so I don't get out much."   He cocked his head at me "How old are you?"   I narrowed my eyes ; that was a hell of a question to be asking.   Resisting a frown I replied "A bit older than you are I expect.   Why do you ask?"   He looked away up the steps, hands in his pockets and I became aware of the sound of metal jingling.   Keys or change?   "I've been watching you for a few weeks."   A slight chill slipped down my spine as he went on "Every Wednesday the little grocers up the street.   Every Monday you eat breakfast at the corner diner.   And you walk in the park back there on Saturday afternoons.   I've never seen you with anyone.. it made me curious.   You smile at people you pass.. but then you pass on."   The chill intensified ; he had  been watching me.   The humor was in those eyes again as he looked back at me, tempered with something that looked oddly like friendly affection "I'm sorry, I don't mean to be scaring you, sometimes I don't think about what I'm saying until I've said it.   I'm not a stalker.." he hesitated " least I never have been, but I am curious."   He looked up the steps again and the metal jingled once more. 

Before I could come up with anything suitable to say he added with a glance back at me and a singularly charming smile "Would you come for a ride with me?   I want to go to the beach, I know a quiet one."   A shoulder shrugged "Pretty quiet anyway."   I straightened up and stared at him suspiciously.   "A ride?   You have a car?"   "Sure, it's back at the park."   I swept him an up and down glance and he grinned "I know, Mom hollers at me all of the time for the way I dress.   Well, don't dress I guess.   I just grab the first thing I get hold of and I hate to shop.   C'mon, wanta come?"   He straightened up himself and crossed boyscout fingers over his heart "I promise, I'll behave.   It's been nice talking to you, let's visit some more.   If you don't have anything you need to do?"   A close look with the question as he added "A rain check if you do?   Would you give me that?   It has been raining."   That charming smile again and the chill ice melted off of my spine.   I looked over my shoulder into my living room at my dayplanner on the coffee table.   Sighed and nodded "Alright, let me get my keys."   "Oh good." his tone turned enthusiastic as he started up to the sidewalk and called back "I'll get the car, just be a minute!"   I paused and stared up at him until he'd vanished.   Those jeans were ripped beneath a back pocket as well..and the white that flashed through the rent fabric wasn't cotton..   I'd lost my mind.   I should go back inside immediately, lock the door and call the police.   But there was that question.. as though he really thought I'd have recognized him, would have reason to recognize him.   And the book he was reading.   Stephen Hawking was a bit more specialized than most educated folks cared to get into, let alone someone living on the street.   But he had a car of some sort apparently.   I huffed a breath ; I was confused as well as foolish.   Had just retrieved my keys and dayplanner, locking the door behind me when I heard the purr of a well tuned engine coming to an idling stop at street level above me.   Suspicious again I went up the steps slowly, looking through the railing across the sidewalk, paused in midstep and stared as he got out of the car and motioned eagerly at me with a waving hand "C'mon!" 

A Porsche, a sleek little black number.   For all that it wasn't new, it still reeked of money, obviously well cared for.   He opened the passenger door for me as he asked brightly "What's your name?" 

It came to me then, as I approached the car and got in cautiously.   Yeah, maybe I should  know who he was.. I didn't recognize him, but was beginning to feel like I should have.   Too late now to worry about it.  

Make a Free Website with Yola.