It was much easier being alone, he thought. Away from people, life in solitude, incognito, just far, far away from society.
I used to walk around New York City everyday. The mass of people I’d encounter. One after another all over Manhattan. Going places. Carrying shopping bags, pushing strollers, brief cases in hand, book bags over the shoulder; all coming at me, he ran his weathered hand through gray hair, took out a red rag to blow his nose on.
And, sitting in parks with hookers, junkies, the insane, wondering what my next move might be. I’d always look up at the sun. It would bounce off steel towers, shine through trees of gold and red and yellow, while people talked to themselves. Mumbling curse words. Looking at the masses going by and spitting at them, he asked for a dollar and it was given to him. The people of New York can be charitable.
His teeth were yellow. Skin was brown. He was missing a right arm and a left leg, taken from him in a suicide attempt; jumped in front of a number 6 train heading into Brooklyn.
I’m going to try out for the Yankees this year, he said. You think I gotta chance? Just as good as I do, I said. Just as good as I do.
We waited there around Madison Square Garden for a while. He with his “homeless vet” sign, me with my hands in my pockets. I remember it was cold out. Yes, it was cold. But, the sun was shining.