Encounter in the Park

“Going to rain.”
“umm.”
“look–over there—in the trees”
“Sum leaves a-blowen”
“the wind is up”
“doan see no rain—gray sky tho—real dark like.”
“Got my umbrella just in case.”
“Gud thinkin’—jus mite need it.”
“Paper said we were in for lightning and thunder today.”
“Doan like lightnin’ thunda, storms ‘n such.”
“Always rains this time of year.”
“Hard ta rememba, what time of yea’ it be?”
“Rainy season.”
“Doan like getting’ weat!  How’s you knows so much?”
“Read a lot, check the calendar, I went to college to learn, that’s what.”
“Doan like rain, musses up da cardboard”
“Cardboard?”
“Ma digs fo the night—cardboard, a plastic bag, ya know, kinda like a tent I guess.”
“You one of those?”
“Those wha?
“You know, street people.”
“I guess—spend lotsa time hea ‘bouts— lotsa time— he he—street people—what name they call us next.”
“Ha!  I just felt a drop—told you it was going to rain!”
“So ya did, so ya did—you see da futcha?
“Clairvoyant?  No, it said so in the paper and you can see the sky—really getting dark.”
“Clair wha?  Smell it now, always ken smell it.  Damn, going to be hell ta night!”
“Ah, you can have my umbrella.”
“I’d ratha have a dolla o two—take ma mind ofen ma stomach”
“Umm”

The rain begins in earnest, she opens her umbrella and hustles across a blanket of fading autumn leaves to 96th street and on to the subway, on to dinner waiting in her warm, dry apartment and into the arms of Jolene.

He, well he rambles along the path, two dollars will buy some two-buck-chuck—it’ll keep him warm–for awhile—before the chills begin, damp chills under his forlorn and soaked cardboard digs.

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