I had a pretty rotten afternoon. I walked down to Starbucks to get my usual afternoon doppio espresso, and sat outside on the planterbox to take it in and maybe see if I could bum a smoke off of one of the local kids. Nobody was around, though, so I just sat and looked up and down the sidewalk for a while.
Just as I was about to go, this older bald guy approached pretty quickly in my direction. You know how you can tell in an instant that something's threatening you? I couldn't ever put my finger on it, but this guy was trouble. He was walking too fast, and a little too...thinly, his steps getting out of control, and when he was about ten feet from me his feet got all tangled up in each other and he took a pretty good header onto the sidewalk. The shoulder of his navy blue jacket landed square in a coffee-tinged puddle, and he scraped his head. The skin on his scalp was whitish-pale, and looked unnatural. I jumped up to see if he was okay.
"Are you alright? Sir?" I asked.
"I'm fine!" he gasped.
"Can I help you up?"
"I'm OK! I'm fine!"
"Here, let me give you a hand." I reached out my hand to help him up.
Dazed, but processing an enormous amount of information, he missed a beat before reaching for my hand. "I'm a cancer patient. Good thing I didn't have chemo today," he said to the ground.
I didn't know how much that might mean. I helped him to his feet and he, thanking me briefly while brushing off his shoulder, pulled a cell phone out of his pocket, walked a distance away, sat on the curb, and placed a call.
Once I saw that he was fairly engrossed in conversation, I tossed my cup in the trash and disappeared around the corner. He couldn't have been less aware of my departure.