The streets were cold this particular morning. I tightened my scarf around my neck and continued to walk down the sidewalk. That's when I noticed a hooded figure laying in an alley, scrunched up into a ball. Glancing around, seeing that no one was paying attention to the poor man, I rushed up to him and knelt on the ground.
"Sir, sir? Are you okay?" The man slowly uncurled, his face turning my way. It was hairy. I could tell he hadn't shaved in a while. He smiled with yellow teeth. his whiskers dancing in patterns around his dark complexion.
"Am I okay? Is that what you asked me? Of course I'm okay! That little girl just gave me twenty bucks, man!" He was overjoyed by this simple act of kindness, and I felt a pang of sadness for him. I then noticed a violent shiver roll through him, leaving his lips chattering and his eyes drooping.
"Well, listen," I began, removing my scarf. "How would you like to come for a drink with me." The man first looked at me suspiciously, his eyes probing mine for some hidden motive. In the next second he was standing above me, his welcoming hand waiting. I smiled and stood. He was about my height, tall, but not too tall. I took my scarf in my hand and it met with his. He took it and wrapped it around his neck, and exuberant grin plastered on his face.
"My name is Christopher. Chris Bronsely."
"Nice to meet you, Chris. I'm Robert Johnson." The two of us began walking down the street, exchanging information and just talking.
When we arrived at the bar we sat down and a pretty waitress came over and took our orders. I would have expected in the past that a homeless man would have tried to hit on a girl like her, but he seemed uninterested. I was surprised at this.
After a few drinks I asked about his family, and if he had any.
"Well, its kind of complicated, and long," he said in an indifferent tone. I probed further.
"I have time. You know, sometimes it helps to talk about your feeling instead of keeping them bottled up inside." Chris looked at me and laughed. Then shook his head and took another sip.
"What are you, a therapist or something?"
"As a matter of fact, I am," I said, sounding slightly defensive. Chris didn't look away from his glass and I saw his face flush through his whiskers.
"Look, man, I didn't mean-"
"I know, it's okay. Lots of people react like that at first. But it's a worthwhile job. What was your job like?" I inquired, fully aware that we were getting off subject. But he seemed complacent to answer my rather personal question. So we talked. And we talked and we talked.
We conversed until the sun went down, and then I invited him to stay at my home. I insisted that he stay when he refused, at least until after Christmas. I introduced him to my wife and my son and daughter, and they really seemed to warm up to our new guest.