Saturday, October 10, 2009

Stay in the shade

In the middle of Washington Avenue stood a total of six cops rummaging in the criminal's car. Behind them were three parked police cars.
The situation looked normal, at least for Miami. It wasn't a big deal. Drugs.

An old man sitting in his mobility aid shook his head. His eyes were alive, his head was alert.
As I approached the bus station he noticed me closing in.
"They won't stop yelling. All this yelling, all this noise. It's no good.
It's no good."
He was one of those men who had quite obviously been an athlete fifty years ago. Probably thirty years ago too. He would be out running, biking, walking, hopping, every morning. Before work, after work, at work. He participated in all the charity marathons. He did triathlons, races, competitions in general.
He would be envied by his neighbors who couldn't stand the fact that he ate three hot dogs during the weekend barbecues, AND cake, and still his abs penetrated his shirt. Or so it seemed.

Now, he was the man who went outside to wait for the bus thirty minutes before it arrived. He knew where to find shade, fifty degrees adjacent to the third parking meter. If it was twelve o' clock.
He would get on a bus downtown, and there he would get off to spend some more time waiting.
Or was he that man?
Most likely so.

His eyes never left the scene. Occasionally his head shook. Most of the time it was when a stranger approached.

The downtown bus finally drew up and he scurried towards it.
I hadn't realized how quickly he had gotten there.
"Watch out so you don't get arrested.
They don't know what they're doing.
Watch out so you don't get arrested."

With those last words he hopped on the bus.
He still knew how to make a disappearing act if he needed to. He still knew how to run faster than an electric mobility aid. That was why he didn't own one. He had the simplest version only because it had a seat. Age was not an issue.
Just the same, he still sat in the shade provided by the third parking meter on Washington Avenue, thirty minutes before the bus came.
Why was not important.

I had spent weeks witnessing seniors taking a full minute to assemble themselves on a bus seat. With troubled eyes they would swear on the inside, wondering why nobody ever bothered to help. And when someone did, they would be embarrassed. They didn't need pity from anyone.
How sad that the only two options available both resulted in melancholy.

Maybe that was why the old man had been an athlete.
Or maybe he just loved to run.

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