aprilhenry (aprilhenry) wrote,

My character got up and walked down the street

I was running today down a long hill. Ahead of me was a man in his mid-thirties. I had seen him get off the bus. He wore jeans and a denim jacket and a baseball cap. As I got closer I saw that he was a little too thin and his hair was a little long. He walked enough blocks that it was clear it wasn't for the environment or for the exercise - he didn't have a car. In the back pocket of his jeans, work gloves, their fingers waving at me with every step.

When I passed him, I said good morning. He nodded back. I had the strangest feeling. He reminded me so much of Jack Satterwhite (his friends called him Satellite) , I guy I made up once. Jack was down on his luck, too. He'd been convicted of drunk driving, so he didn't have a car. He was also having to come to terms with the idea of living, after years of thinking (wrongly) that he had Huntingtons Disease (which is terrible, inherited, and always fatal).

A few blocks further on, our paths crossed again. He was looking at a photocopied map. I tried to help, which was nearly futile. The part of the brain that allows you to read maps is broken in my case. Plus our neighborhood can have the same street as a Street or a Drive, and they are nowhere near each other. He wasn't much better. Together, we decided on a direction, and he set off again while I stretched. I imagine that he was looking for a place where he was supposed to be a day laborer. Not the kind of life you dream of having when you are a kid. But better than being in prison or dead. He was trying.

When I started running again, I saw him walking down a long block away from me, his steps determined and purposeful. If he was closer, I would have asked him if his name was Jack.

My hands still smell like him, like his cigarettes, from handling that map.

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