Friday, November 06, 2009
Of course she had to pay him, for that was his self-appointed job. Compliments. He walked over to the others -- the usual commuters at that hour -- and said something to each that would lift the spirits. Love your hair, dear. Sir, that tie is a good one! New shoes? Good taste!
It usually cost them a dollar apiece. Not every day, only on Mondays, for Homeless Reggie had other corners and other compliments to bestow.
It was one of the darkest times of her life, but for the briefest of moments there was light.
A dollar well spent, she always thought.
The bus arrived and she sat by the window in the back row and sniffled as quietly as she could. She had a plan if anyone asked: “Sorry, it’s my allergies.” But the few people seated at the front kept their eyes on their newspapers, and their ears minded their own business.
Her lover’s words to her this morning were as goodbye as they could get, “I’ve got to go away. Sorry, but I can’t come back.”
He looked in the mirror while he dressed, and spoke to her reflection as he knotted the tie she never liked: a pink silk that was as thin as a tongue. “I do want to be here but my wife needs me more.” Oh yes. The tie had been a gift from his family.
But today was their anniversary. One year.
Apparently, a time misspent.
Later, when she returned to her small empty apartment after a trying day of work and sorrow and scanned the room, her eyes stopped at the slate fireplace in the corner. Her ex-lover’s picture still sat on the mantle next to the one of her as a small child. In her photo she is seated on a dark velvet-covered chair, and is wearing a simple white lacy frock and an antique cap, handed down from some ancient ancestor, no doubt. Though she is smiling widely, one can see tears in her baby brown eyes.
Smiling through her tears. Nothing has changed.
Outside, several cardinal birds perch along the telephone wire that extends to the back of the alley, their garish red plumage appearing as bloody slashes against the grey and cloudy dusk. She turned away. She refused to think about tomorrow.
After all, Homeless Reggie will not be there either.