Thursday, August 15, 2013

Salt and pepper

The man twitched and scratched his week-old salt and pepper beard. His eyes ricocheted around the bus, shooting to the driver, out the window to passing cars, and back to me, sitting to his left across the aisle.

"Maybe it's something I have to do myself," he said, voice soft and nervous, like he needed to tell just one person and didn't want anyone else to hear him.

He wore pajama bottoms and a green shirt. Both were torn and stained brown with dirt. His fingers also wouldn't keep still, and he alternated between tapping them in his legs and touching his face.

"Know what I mean?"

At the next stop, he shifted behind me in the confusion of people moving on and off the bus. Suddenly, I was faced with his big grey eyes, wide and pleading, and hands that crept up the back of my seat, closer to me.

"They told me not to come back," he said. "But maybe you can help me."

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