ORCHESTRATING THOUGHT INTO THE WRITTEN WORD
My husband and I spent half the morning sitting in the court room listening to my stomach growl. I was hungry and anxious to either have our case heard or a break so we could get something to eat. The break came first. We rushed to get some breakfast while attorneys, clients, people smoking, eating donuts and drinking coffee crowded the entrance just outside the court house building.
After buying breakfast and observing the crowd around us I noticed an old man in the near distance walking towards us. He had white hair, a beard that seemed to reach down to his waist, and long dirty fingernails. He wore yellow pants which were short, and carpenter boots that looked at least two sizes too small, over mix-matched socks. You couldn’t help but notice his socks and shoes because of the way he was walking. Up top he wore a huge green T-shirt underneath a red sweatshirt too small.
I watched him intently as he bent down over the public ashtray and picked up two and a half cigarette butts from out of the can. He lit one and slowly inhaled the cigarette smoke deep into his lungs. He then exhaled just as slow and I could see how much he enjoyed smoking, for the expression on his face showed he was truly satisfied. With this one drag, as if it energized him, he continued walking towards us and just as he was shoveling past me and my husband he looked at me and we made eye contact. I looked into the most beautiful blue eyes I’ve ever seen.
They were the bluest eyes I’ve ever known any human to have. My eyes followed him to a trashcan in which he found a half drank cup of coffee with a cigarette butt floating in it. He took the butt out and like a thirsty traveler in the Sahara desert he drank that cup of coffee, savoring every last drop. He continued rummaging through the trash and found a portion of a doughnut, and it was at that very moment, while watching him, a strange sensation rushed through my entire body. It’s hard to describe exactly what happened, but for an instant my eyes became his eyes.
He and I were one.
I felt his hunger.
His desperate need to eat.
I understood the pain that rumbled through his stomach.
“Ah honey, he’s hungry. Do you think he’ll take my food?”
“Yeah!” My husband replied.
As I walked over to him, I noticed I was the only person who seemed to acknowledge his existence.
Is that why there’s so many starving people in this world?
“Excuse me.” I began. He looked up and I told him I had to go back inside and asked if he wanted my food. He snatched the bag from me and said nothing. I hadn’t expected him to. I turned around and walked back to my husband.
When I reached him he said, “When you handed that guy your food, that kid over there gave him his coke.”
I stared at the kid who looked like a gangbanger, I was elated he’d followed my lead.
“Really?” I was so happy and excited for the old man. I turned to watch him enjoy his food and drink, but he was gone. “Where’d he go?” I asked but my husband merely shrugged.
He was nowhere to be found. This was strange because where he was standing it was nearly impossible for him to have simply vanished. From the time he received the coke to the time I looked over to where he was standing was too short of a time for him to have just disappeared. He would’ve had to run very fast, but in those shoes I don’t understand how he could. I was perplexed, but we were soon called back into the court house, where I sat on the bench listening to people make up excuses for being there— listening, once again, to my stomach growl.
I often wonder about this day; About experiencing a strange moment through this old man’s piercing blue eyes. Maybe it was some sort of test— life testing my generosity before the judge let us off with a warning? Or maybe it was a way to make me evaluate my life and contemplate all the things I hungered for.
I hungered for change.
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