They look sleazy and don’t often look you in the eye, so neither do you. You don’t often see them standing up, ever noticed it? Always slouching or sleeping or curled up into a corner holding on to something for dear life.
Probably lived like you and me once. Probably. Owners of a memory of someone from the past, incapable of projecting a future continuum. They’re masters and possessors of a stare that goes unnoticed, avoided by those long fast walking legs that are seen from down below.
You glance at their cardboard signs, only lightly curious about their story, expecting it to be condensed in no more than six, maybe seven words. More than that and you’ve already moved on. They’re addicts, they’re lazy, they’re unfortunate, they’re misfits, they are whatever crosses your mind, all you know is that you don’t want to become the same: you’re different, somehow.
Sometimes a pocket is reached for change, but no more than a pound of course, those coins are useful for the mid-morning latte at the café. Some bend over to reach the hat, cup, hands, bowl, that rests in their lap all dirty and broken.
Sometimes they moan, sometimes they say nothing.
“Is that a woman?”, you often notice, taking your time to recognize that she is, noticing the ragged saggy clothes and the piercing on her nose. “If only she sold that piercing”, you hear yourself say, “maybe she could have breakfast this morning.”
Sometimes you find two of them together, wrapped around each other like careless lovers on a foreign country that doesn’t speak their language. No cups, no thoughts, no movement, no 2 liners’ life stories. They seem to know something you don’t and that thought makes you slightly uncomfortable. Together they’re native speakers in an alien and uncomplicated world that looks them from above.
Broken lives with a chance of broken souls. But at the end of the day, we’re all hungry for something. A pound-fifty doesn’t solve our problems either.