He showed up every Saturday in his grey suit and I was always ready in my matching one.
Who knows what he told the Sisters, maybe he greased a few palms. Maybe when he bought me my matching outfit they figured they could breath easy.
He didn't say much as we got off the subway and started making our "rounds," he told me that he was on a mission and I was a genius. I was used to doing what I was told and keeping my mouth shut, so I didn't bother questioning it.
I would be looking at the geese or noticing the different shoes walking by and then he'd tap me with his rolled up newspaper and we would walk to the next location.
I know he was meeting with other men in suits, because sometimes they would pass me walking briskly and I thought I was getting left behind. Then he would be standing next to me waiting for the other guys wearing fedoras to disappear before we'd continue.
Back at Mary's, I would be finishing up first studies and during my free period I would be going to the bathroom. As I walk into the bushes I always remember the first time I was confronted with this challenge. He was leaving me at the next stop, as usual, when I broke the silence.
"I have to use a wash room."
"There's a convenience over there, just don't take long and you better be at this bench when I get back- this will be a short one."
I ran over even before he left, but I felt trouble as soon as I touched the door knob. It was clunky like no one had opened it in a while, and inside it was all dark.
I ran out in a panic, really starting to feel it. Unfortunately, this area in the park was a little more secluded. Suddenly, I heard someone mumbling out of view, in the trees.
"Hey, you know where I could take a leak around here, old man?"
"There ain't a bathroom around for blocks, young man."
I pretty much decided to drop dead, right there, and I must have looked like it too, because his face kind of softened, and he put out his hands cupped together.
"I'll tell you what, boy, you can pee right here in my hands I promise I won't look at your business."
I was running out of options, so I started undoing my zipper. And, he turned his head.
"Don't look me in the eyes, either!" I said finishing up our verbal contract.
Afterwards, I hurried back figuring he'd go dump my urine over in a toilet or trash can. But, just in time fedora showed up as I reached the bench.
He started leading the way, as usual, while I breathed the sigh of a man who just got his call from the govenor. As we turned the corner, my homeless gentleman jumped out and threw something at my guide and ran away cackling.
"Jesus H. Christ! He threw his piss in my face!" We kept walking as he tried to towel off using a handkerchief. I tried not to laugh, realizing that he had no idea it was my pee! I guess it was our little secret, I thought to myself.
We finished our rounds as usual that day and I chuckled again as I took off my jacket. What could I tell the other boys, even if I wanted to, you know?
Years later I traveled that path again, the one we did every Saturday. Everything was pretty much as I left it, including that old abandoned bathroom that caused me so much troub-
"Is that you?"
I look up and see the same bum plus 15 years of wear and tear on his clothes.
"I don't know, you still feel like given me a hand?"
We walked towards the woods like old soldiers, single file without saying a word. His about face transitioned gracefully into a indian style squat and fluid presentation of arms in one continuous motion.
Of course we were feeling nostalgic as I emptied my bladder, but as my eyes wandered down he broke the spell by talking.
"Old times, huh?"
I rearranged my clothes with a frown on my face. I guess somebody forgot the rules. I went back to the bench and sat down. As I sat and watched the sun set, I wondered to myself, "What am I waiting for this time?"
I lean back to see a dark sky, hardly noticing any stars through the lights of the city. A typographical arrow made of a couple dashes and a left tangle bracket set off a message, " --> You gotta seek before you get weak. Anonymous "
Hmm, I thought to myself, I guess the only advice that matters is the kind you get from someone you admire.
- ▼ August (10)