The old guy is walking down the middle of the street as I leave work in the wee hours of the morning. He’s weather-beaten in the customary manner of the Crazy Homeless Guys who call this neighborhood home.
He’s waving his arms around, pointing aimlessly left, up, down, right. Head bobbing, tattered clothes rustling, ancient baseball cap in peril of plunging to its death.
He looks up. Our eyes meet.
You be safe out here!!!! he exclaims.
For a second, my instincts tell me to worry. But my instincts are pretty tired, so I figure what the hell. You be safe out here too!!! I reply.
He pauses to register the response. He stares at me a moment, then repeats: You be safe out here!!!! and continues his march down the street, arms flailing.
I head to the comfort of my car, if you can call an ’88 Honda comfortable. He heads down the street, arms still playing out an odd dance to the music in his head, toward the steps nearby that he will call home tonight.
I say a little prayer for him. That’s all you can do. So many strays. It’s a hard world.
Be safe out there, my friend. Please be safe …