On my lunch break shortly before the election, I strode down the street wrestling with a vexing issue. As I struggled to untangle one leg of a knot, six more cropped up like leftover balls of knitting yarn haphazardly tossed in a box. Engrossed in my conundrum, I almost stepped on a dejected looking soul slumped on the sidewalk in front of me. Never was I one to touch an unknown human being under any circumstances. This man’s dire situation so impacted me; I felt compelled to stoop down and place my hand on his shoulder. “Sir, can I help you? Shall I call 911?” Looking up, I noticed my hand was in not on his shoulder. I fought the urge not to jerk away and almost failed.
“If you would just sit with me for a moment. I’ll be fine.”
Stealing a peek at my watch, I grumbled to myself. I was going to be late anyway. In those few seconds, I noticed he already looked better than he had before, though, so maybe this won’t take too long. Furthermore, it IS, after all, nice to be nice…
Like he was a mind reader, the man pinkened at my change of heart and even more when I concluded that it was the least I could do. The stranger gave me a weak smile. With what came across as more of a smirk, I attempted to mimic it back at him; his color changed immediately like having a mood ring. To test my theory, I smiled broadly, and the creature seemingly pumped with adrenalin sat up tall and clapped me on the back thanking me profusely for stopping to help him out with a hearty laugh. “Some rules are meant to be broken,” he chuckled with a knowing wink as he punched me in the side with his elbow.
“Ok, pal what’s game are you playing?” I wanted to know scrutinizing his every move sure I was about to be attacked by a gang of his ruffian cohorts. Like a chameleon, his pallor took on the hue of the concrete. In the course of my life, I’ve witnessed a strange thing or two. Skintone changing as if by an Instagram filter before my eyes, never have I seen such a thing before. Gingerly I removed my hand from his whatever- shivered, and stood to look down on him. “I don’t know what you’re up to but I got things to do and no time to fool with the likes of you. Good day.”
As I turned to go, the thing said in an enfeebled croak almost transparent, “Please, if you lose me again you may not get me back. You don’t understand. Hang on to me.” My phone already in my hand to dial for help, I recoiled at that thought of hanging on. “I haven’t got time for this. Emergency services can deal with you.”
“No,” came back at me in a long death rattle moan. “I can’t survive another day in the God forsaken society for separated souls. You must take me back. Please. The world won’t make it if too many more are lost. The election and this past year parted too many from their—” He stopped short of making sense.
“What are you talking about? Why must I? What God forsaken…? The world?” I said frantically. “Until moments ago I have never laid eyes on you.” To shriek shrilly seemed the only form of communication I was capable of in the face of this insanity.
“We’ve always been together until recently. After the first time, you lost me I went to the society. Ugh, you can’t imagine thousands of them rollicking like joyless kittens. I can’t do it again.” He put his head in his hands and wept before looking up at me red-eyed, “When it started to happen on a regular basis–”
Two children skipped by oblivious to us as they giggled hands full of the Autumn leaves. A rueful glint flashed across the gray visage at my feet. “Do you remember those days? Seems like only yesterday.” His continence flushed with a bit more vigor, and another faint upturn inched across his lips, “Do you remember?”
His sad smile struck a vaguely familiar cord, but in my bluster, I almost didn’t notice, “What days? You and I share no history. Of that fact, I am certain. Therefore, you must have mixed me up with someone else.” Then like when you possess one last match, I found myself hoping that the flame of memory would light and not sputter out and die. At my wit’s’ end and to my great surprise, I asked, “Do you think you could marshal your strength to go into this bar and allow me to buy you a drink?”
The words still lingering on my tongue this creature sprang to his feet rather happily and bounded to the barroom door. In a second I was on him before he could get the door open, I seized him by the scruff and seethed through clenched teeth, “Explain yourself before taking another step. Who or what are you?” I was alarmed and didn’t think it was funny. Maybe to HIM…
FOUND – ONE SENSE OF HUMOR
He stuck out his tongue while giggling like a school girl, “I’m your sense of humor, silly. Thank goodness you finally found me! You had me worried. Now, let’s get that drink.”