Friday, April 27, 2007

The man in the fading suit ...

This afternoon on my way back from the playground I caught the eyes of a man I have seen quite often in the neighborhood. He’s about my age and wears the same jacket and pants most of the time. They are shiny now but from the cut of them I suspect he might once have had a job, and maybe even a family, and his job afforded him the luxury of buying a good suit of clothes. Our eyes met as I was leaving the Stadtgarten today in the late afternoon. It was a stunning day, almost frighteningly so. I don’t know whether to celebrate the weather or dig a deep hole. It’s April in Germany and it feels like July in Italy. Something is wrong somewhere in the ether and I am angry that I have to even think about it but I do and we do and this, I fear, is only the beginning.

But my story today isn’t about the climate, although it might ought to be, it’s about the man I saw at the end of the day, whose near smile stays with me even now after dinner, after HH has taken his bath and is off in dreamland, as the sun is nearly set and of all the things in my world right now that I could be thinking about it’s this man on the bench in the Stadtgarten that occupies my thoughts.

I don’t recall the first time I saw him, but it was a while ago, sometime in the last six months. He was on a bench in the Brüsseler Platz, near the garden plot I tend. He was nearly asleep and the instrument of his numbed rest was resting at his side, empty and needing to find it’s home in a nearby trash bin. Empty bottles resting near their consumer on a park bench speak loudly of desperation and loneliness and loose whatever other value they may have had before there cap was plucked.

This afternoon there was another bottle at his side but it wasn’t yet empty and his eyes were still open and when I peddled by he looked at me with recognition and I nearly nodded back, just enough to acknowledge him, enough I expect that he gave me a thought or two and may have wondered who I might be. I don’t think he’s ever noticed me before because he’s usually sleeping or close to sleeping when our paths have crossed. He reminds me of someone, of the man who runs the cigar store down the street, a successful man who is never short of a smile or a hello. They could be brothers these two and maybe they are. I’ll probably never know and I expect that one day soon this man in the fading suit will no longer haunt our neighborhood. He doesn’t have the sturdy bearing of the other men who drink together each day in the park. He is a softer man, not unlike myself, and always drinks alone. I fear his ride will be a brief and steep decline. I wish him well.



Blogger Carol said...

Beautifully witten!


7:48 AM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

The man in the shiny suit is haunted, and now he's haunting you.

How lucky we are to have lives intact (more or less). Thank you for this reminder of the good fortune I enjoy (and you, and the cigar store owner.)

2:49 PM  
Blogger d. chedwick bryant said...

I like how you describe him, and it makes me feel he is slowly turning into a ghost, a person people see and don't see at the same time.

8:31 PM  
Blogger Eddie said...

I see him and his fellows a lot, because I spend a goodish amount of time in parks.

6:24 PM  
Blogger Rositta said...

Why does no one engage him in conversation, why is he just permitted to fade away as if he never existed? It is a sad story and makes me sadder still that there is no help for this human being...most of us are a few paychecks or one disaester away from homlessness...ciao

2:52 AM  
Blogger Cathy said...

A smile can go a long way....:)xo

10:43 PM  
Anonymous ian said...

It's a sad thing how one's life can lose its bearings, leaving only loose ends.


1:34 AM  
Anonymous jessica said...

This is a really sweet post - and a creative one. i often see things on the street, but never creatively turn that into a post. i should take more risks with my writing, and get outside the "expat" box

12:25 PM  
Blogger Signora B. said...

Written beautiful ,its sad enough to break my heart.
Sometimes its easier to be kind to a homeless dog ,then a homeless person. Why is that?
I hope that someone will show this man kindness .In this world people too have become disposable and that is wrong.
A smile and a touch can help restore a lonesome spirit.

3:41 PM  

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