a shadow on the bridge

waterhouse140.Danaides

This is a memory from several years ago when I worked in Century City…

Crossing the pedestrian bridge I came upon a homeless man standing against the rail in the middle of the bridge connecting the two sides of Avenue of the Stars, holding a small sign requesting money for food, a cardboard sign made from the flap of a packing box, lettered with black marker.

I was on an errand from the office, in a rush, and like so many others I almost went past him, but his sign caught my eye and his solemn face stopped me in mid-stride. Since I brought my lunch every day, I got along with only a few dollars in my purse. I dug my wallet out of my jacket pocket. Folded thin between two bank cards was a single dollar bill, lone survivor of the twenty I’d had from the week before. I gave it to him and apologized that it was all I had. His soft, mobile face broke into a wide smile. He was missing several front teeth. He blessed me and thanked me in a heartfelt voice thick with gratitude. He wished me a good day. I thanked him and went on my way.

He leaned against the rail in the middle of the bridge on a sunswept Thursday afternoon, suits and clerical workers striding past, practically invisible, a shadow on the bridge.

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