Last fall I noticed a man who walks the bike trail in front of our house. All the time. I have begun to wonder if he is just walking his life away. No matter what time of the day or how often during a day I am on my porch….there he goes or here he is.
The first time I passed him I noticed his face is scarred.
His hair is almost military in it’s cut.
I said ‘hello’ and kept walking. He did not respond. The second time I passed him I spoke again and again he did not respond. I no longer attempt to speak to him. Sometimes I get offended when I speak to people and they don’t respond. But I don’t with him. I get the feeling it is difficult for him to acknowledge me and speak. So I try not to add any discomfort to his walk.
And he is wearing the same shirt he wore the first time I saw him about 10 months ago. It is a red or peach or mango or pink colored shirt. I can’t tell you what color it is. But I can tell you what has happened to it.
It has nearly disintegrated off of him. When I first noticed him the shirt was whole. Intact. The only holes in it where for his head, his arms and his body. I first started noticing holes earlier this year, in the spring. Holes got bigger. Now, I don’t think the correct term is “hole”. There is a string that still goes across his back that reaches around his ribs to a tract of cloth that covers his chest and part of his belly. The ring of the neck seems to still be there. But there are a few web like strings connecting different pieces of the shirt together. It is more gone than it is there.
Is he trying to see how long it will take to make the shirt totally dissolve?
He doesn’t walk in the part of the street outlined for the trail. He walks right down the middle of the street. Unless a car is coming. Then he moves. During the winter and colder days he did have a jacket on. But I am pretty sure the shirt was still on under there.
I saw him this morning. Every time I see him….I wonder.
What’s up with the shirt?
Where is he walking too and from every day?
Many times a day.
And is he okay?
I want to offer him a shirt but I’m afraid of offending him. If he could not accept a “hello” from me, how would he possibly accept a shirt. He does not look unkempt. He doesn’t appear to be hungry. He is extremely tan. His leg muscles are proof of his constant walking.
But I worry.
Is his life all about the walking?
What’s his story?
I think I would feel better if I saw this shirt totally dissolve and he started wearing a new one. That he wears until it falls apart. Maybe he’s very frugal. I hope that’s it.
I am sure the stories that go round and round in my head about him are less traumatic than what he has lived.
But I don’t know.
Honestly if not for the shirt I wonder if I would have noticed. Him.
I hope he’s okay.