Author: andromeda311 PM
A talk about life with a homeless man in the park. "It's funny, isn't it, everyone's here and none of us know why."Rated: Fiction K - English - Drama - Words: 1,222 - Reviews: 1 - Published: 10-12-06 - id: 2261619
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Lyrics are from Fall on Me, by REM. Review if you like.
(keep your conscience in the dark)
isn't anything at all
(melting statues in the park)
The ribbon is red, probably pretty once, but now faded and splotchy and muddy where it's been sitting out in the rain. A little girl somewhere undoubtedly missed it a few weeks ago, but it's been here a while.
I don't know why I'm sitting in the rain watching ribbons fade to dull brown when I have a perfectly warm apartment to go back to. Well, it's not really rain, rather a light mist, more annoying than anything else, but sitting in the rain sounds so much more listless than sitting in the drizzle. I'm not really sad, or really happy, or really mad, or really anything, I guess.
There's a statue of someone I've never heard of off to the left, all nasty and broken and pigeon-dropping stained, and I can't help but think that if I'm going to be immortalized in a statue like that, I'll just take my gravestone.
No one knows.
No one takes notice of the ribbon, the only real color out here, in the concrete, and the mostly-dead trees, and the gray half-light. It seems odd to me that the only color goes forgotten.
"It's funny, isn't it," the homeless man rasps, "everyone's here and none of us know why."
It's hard to imagine, but I try. This homeless man wearing my coat, shivering in the mist, unshaven and unwashed, looking so hard-done-by, in love. Maybe he had a wife once. Maybe he has kids who don't want to speak to him. Maybe his wife died, or ran off with the mailman, or maybe he was an alcoholic and she left him, or maybe this, maybe that.
Is it that easy to fall? From on top of the world to licking up table scraps?
Never mind that year. I'll give them another month.
He glances at me sideways, and says simply, "Circumstance, opportunity… The company is better. You?"
"Nowhere else to go."
"Now, I have nowhere else to go. You, you're what? 20? College student?"
"High school dropout."
He doesn't say anything else, and I don't elaborate. Circumstance and opportunity, huh? Isn't that all life is? What happens, and what you make of it. We're all here, and none of us know why.
The silence drags.
He doesn't answer for a while, and I have to think that even dirty and patched as he is, he looks like some sort of intellectual, some sort of professor, a great thinker. What might have happened if he didn't end up here?
"I suppose that's why people have religion." He says softly, "To believe there is a reward. But anyway, why does a mother raise a child when she knows he's going to leave someday, and she's going to miss him terribly? Why do people who've been hurt by love remarry?"
"Momentary lapse of judgement?" I offer sardonically. He smiles humorlessly.
A man walks by, handing out flyers for something or other, smiling and being so congenial, and no one takes any notice of him either. He doesn't offer one to either of us, and walks right over the ribbon, leaving a thin strip of a footprint.
"So what is the meaning of life?" I ask, almost jokingly. The homeless man stares at the ribbon for a long moment, thinking.
"See that?" And he points to it. I nod. "It's still red, even though it's caked with mud, drenched, and probably been sitting here longer than we have. It's still the only color around. That's the meaning of life. To just be, even though you've seen it all, even if you're not shining, even if you're not perfect."
His suit is as gray as the statue, and he stands out just about as much.
Little ice-cream boy and his mother walk by, and she's quietly berating him for something, holding his hand tightly. Was the man beside me like that once? He must have been, right? Everyone's a kid once. I was a kid once, but my mother didn't treat me like that.
But I don't want to move. I guess I've grown comfortable on the bench, surrounded by the gray, and I know I won't be here tomorrow because I have work and all manner of things to do. As the night falls, the people filter away, slowly.
The lovers walk by separately. I make a vow never to fall in love.
The ribbon is still red.