Friday, 29 September 2006

Once Upon A Pavement

Once upon a pavement, I saw an invisible man. He asked me if I had a cigarette to spare and I gave him one.

This is what an invisible man looks like: shabby - unshaved and unbathed. Homeless and jobless and out of cigarettes, with a liverful of cheap booze sloshing about inside. Anyone can smell him, and avoid brushing past him, but of all the smokers clustered on that pavement, I was the one who got to see him.

"Wait," I said, and I lit his cigarette for him. Then lit my own. We stood together silently on that bright chilly Californian afternoon, and we smoked our cigarettes. When I finished, I smiled a goodbye at him, and carried on.
I spent the rest of that day wandering through a university campus to which I would never belong. I roamed textbook stores, read notices on bulletin boards, and watched students in animated discussions. Then I left, unnoticed, and fifteen years went by.

I saw him and he saw me. That's all. That's enough. Some stories don't need a happy ever after.

(University of Berkeley, California. Early '90s)

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