The Lonely Traveler

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He shuffles down 4th street, taking no more than a few inches per step.

His skin is leathered and brown. Sunspots decorate his alopecic scalp where hair once adorned. His beard is white and long, tousled and unkempt. He is clothed in light brown khaki’s and a frayed green flight jacket.

Looking over he notices the business is closed. He turns toward a nook in a doorway, 3830 4th Street, and eases down to rest from his long travels.

He draws a cigarette from his coat pocket, strikes a match, and illuminates the unfiltered end with shaking hands.

He observes pedestrians meander by in delightful conversation, himself going unnoticed.

After a space of time, he slowly rises to his unsure but steady feet.

He drops his cigarette on the sidewalk charred to the filter. With two awkward steps, he extinguishes it with the sole of his tattered shoe.

He appears to shuffle 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 spacious locks and long, gray beard with his soiled fingers.

He smiles. Tears well up in my eyes.

He slowly turns in a new direction shuffling on his way still smiling.

There he goes…a child of God.

Bruce Rowe © 2009

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