I recognized that look, that stance, the whole flow of movement as he crossed the street. Our eyes met, and in an instance – I knew.
The hood over his head, the hands in the pocket, the shoulders slightly tense, feet moving rapidly, one would think he is worried. But, one glance and I felt the score.
I was listening to my friend, but I was watching him. He sensed my gaze as we passed each other. It was a fraction of a second, I smiled a little, he looked back up at me again, straight into my eyes. And I knew. I felt him. It was all too familiar.
It might as well have been my imagination, I thought. But I turned back after about 50 steps, and I saw I was right.
He stopped at the corner and the girl got up from the ground.
I had seen her a few seconds before I passed him, lying in the indent of the building, covered with a sleeping bag, on her side, facing the wall, a few empty paper cups around her, and an ampoule of some medicine on a pizza box. When I’d passed her it was clear to me that drugs brought her to the street, or were keeping her there.
Now I know it is a partnership. And for a few hours after our paths crossed they felt warmer and happier than me. Even though I was in Paris, my stomach was full, there was money on my account, a roof over my head, his eyes said it all: I got this now!
And I had only the bitterness of reality to hold on to, and a few tears shed for the three of us.
They must be pretty cold now…
photo credit: Anthony Friedkin