A Strange Day in May

Three facts, one fiction:

Something strange happened to me today. As I got off the bus and crossed the street I ran into a black man in a wheel chair. He was sitting at the street corner seeming to want to cross, but stuck. He didn’t look dirty but had that unwashed sweat-rain smell common to those who get soaked by a surprise downpour. As I helped him across the street, after asking if he needed help, he told me something that took me by surprise. He asked “are you married?” when I said no, he went on” you know when your wife tells you something and you just go ‘ yeah-yeah-yeah’? ” I nodded yes, and with the kind of conviction that’s born of tragedy said “never ever do that.” After I helped him get on to a bus, I stood in the light drizzle as the bus pulled away.

Three fictions, one fact:

I struggled to make sense of what the man in the wheelchair tried to say through his slurred speech. I wasn`t sure how much of the slur was from his scars, and how much of it was booze. I wondered which war had left him so broken. He was missing a leg with the rest of his body so contorted that he could barely sit in his wheelchair. He could only use his sandaled left foot to drag, push, or maneuver his wheel chair. I tried to make out what he was trying to say while we tried to catch one of the buses that kept ignoring him. His anger and frustration finally broke through as he wailed “This is why I fucking hate my life! This is why my life is like hell!” as another bus passed us in the rain. Finally a bus driver that recognized him picked him up. I never did figure out where he was coming from, going, or how he had gotten trapped outside in the rain without any rain gear.

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