Wednesday, July 1, 2009

“Can you help me out?”

he asks as I sit on the square, reading my book.


The first thing I notice about him is his striking blue eyes. Sad blue eyes. They sit within a tanned face with gray beard, below gray hair sticking out from under a dirty ball cap. His vest is patched with duct tape in a few places and his jeans have grime caked into the creases.


He carries a guitar in his hand as he walks around the square, looking to scrounge enough cash to buy a drink. I invite him to sit next to me on the bench, and grab my last dollar bill from my wallet. When I hand it over he tells me he doesn’t take handouts, that he is going to perform a service for that dollar. He unzips that guitar case and pulls out his shiny six-string.


“As you know, I’m Jungle Jeff and this;” he says with a grand gesture to his instrument, “is Leah. Not like Princess Leah in those movies, but like my ex.”


The music is mediocre at best. At some point he played well, but the alcohol and hard existence have made him lose the knack. His song seems to be made up of many individual riffs, none of which match each other. Some blues guitar, some country, some random scales. Even for the musically un-initiated, such as myself, it is disjointed. But I tap my foot in changing time with his music, I smile when a part of the the song sounds beautiful.


I look at my watch and realize that I am late getting back to work. I wait for a break in the music and thank him for the song. As I shake his hand he asks if there is anything else I can do to help him out. Maybe go to the ATM and pull out some cash?

Just a couple more bucks he can get a drink.

I tell him that I have to get back to the office, but that I enjoyed running into him. I tell him to stay dry as the rain clouds start to build over the city. He smiles and those blue eyes appear sadder than ever.


As I walk away I hear him playing for nobody. A run-down man on a run-down bench, with nothing but the music to keep him company.


Melissa said...

You sure are old for 23, Tom. Said with a small smile.

Thanks for sharing this.

TomboCheck said...

Melissa - Nah. Just a young dumb punk here. :-D

Melissa said...

Apparently, that would be 24. At least for a few more days. Dammit, I should have checked. :P

TomboCheck said...

It's all good, even I have trouble keeping it straight. There are years where I forget my birthday. I suddenly get a call from the parents, and I'm like 'whoa, already?'.

Granny J said...

I am enjoying your little vignettes, Tom -- do keep it up.

TomboCheck said...

Julie - :) I've got to do something since I'm not out shooting photos!