Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Tomorrow was a holiday, and while everyone around him was bustling and running and sometimes screaming from the driver seat of their car, he was walking down a neighborhood street in the sunshine. His wife was doing all the cooking; all he had to do was fetch the few things she had forgotten or couldn't find during the big shopping expedition over the weekend. Even though it meant walking into Berkeley Bowl on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. It wasn't snowing, they weren't traveling, no family feuds to fret over. He didn't even have to pretend to like football as the only person who cared to watch the game would be in the kitchen. Just an easy day of playing with the kids and killing time until dinner.

He walked the long way home from the store with a bag of fruit in one hand, his groceries in the other, going down the street he usually saw the homeless people on, the panhandlers, the men and women with their milk crates and street sheets, the Reaganized insane. The down and out the university students and soccer moms bumped between on their daily rounds.

He saw a woman digging through a garbage can, real down-and-out-looking, dirty, disheveled. "Would you like an apple and a banana?"

She pulled her arm out of the trash but didn't reach for the fruit. "No thank you. I made a vow to only eat what I find in dumpsters." Her skin had the leathery look of long exposure to the elements.

He started to put the paper bag on top of the trash, but she interrupted him, "No, I won't take that."

"It all comes from Him." He still held the bag out. She didn't smell much.

She smiled but still shook her head no. "You can tell me where Trinity Church is. They give donuts out on Wednesday and I'd rather dumpster dive there than behind the donut shop."

He smiled. "I don't go to church–He doesn't live in churches."

"I know." Now she took her arm away from the garbage can and touched her chest. "He lives in the heart."

Didn't he know it. "Good luck to you, sister."

"Thank you. Any wisdom for me?"

He thought about all his time on the road, looking for nirvana and seeing the human condition, beautiful and ugly. The saved and the damned. About how he stopped and got out of that car one day and knew he was home. About his grand-baby and his children.

"Just remember, it all comes from Him."

She went back to digging through the trash as he turned and walked home.


Sorry it sounds stilted, but I wrote it from notes. That one's true, and I love my husband for being that kind of man. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.


Daniel Heath said...

I love the blend of madness and sincerity. I'm always looking for that in my made-up writing, but I am reminded here that it's always best when it comes from real life.

Bones said...

Madness? Where?