Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Tiny T: Episode Five

   T thanked Zane for delivering the message and tucked the wrinkled, scrawled-on paper bag into a pocket on the front of his denim vest. Zane asked, "Aren't you going to send her a note? Or have me tell her something? I'm sure she's waiting for us back at the coffee shop." The bicyclist's voice had a needy, questioning edge now. 

   "Nah, don't think so, man. But thanks again. You be safe on these streets. People don't watch." With that, T turned his back on Zane, on his unusual morning in the French Quarter, and quite possibly on the beautiful brunette. But he was no longer disappointed. The street car was long gone, so he leaned forward and once again found his rhythmic, soothing pace. 

   Soon he crossed the tracks, climbed the sidewalk and grassy hill edging the river, and stopped just at the rocky slope there. T smiled broadly at the muddy, churning river below him. Just a few minutes ago, it had been a beacon for peace. A place he could rest his eyes and his thoughts. Now, the swirling brown waters just stirred up his imagination. He was alive again with the possibility of the new day. 

   The ferry shuttled another load of cars across from Algiers. T wondered how many people on that boat believed in true love. Seagulls circled and screamed at the wind, hunting for their breakfast, and out of  nowhere a homeless man wearing a tattered coat and dreadlocks approached T for help with his own breakfast. "Got anything to spare, man?"

   T looked at him and felt a deep, clenching grip on his heart. This man was young. And probably sick. Definitely somebody's son. He reached into his wallet to see what cash he had left.

   "Sure I do. Here you go. Go get something hot." T pressed a five dollar bill and three ones into the man's dirty, calloused hand and gently clapped his other hand against the man's thin shoulder. I pity the fool who won't help, who thinks we're all in this alone, T thought to himself. Then he said aloud, "It's a beautiful morning... Anything is possible." He looked at the man firmly but with a rare sort of brotherly love. 

   The homeless man regarded T with caution, perhaps expecting to endure a little preaching as payment for the breakfast cash. But none came. Just a silent, grateful evaluation of the moment. "Yeah, sure, I suppose you're right. Thanks man." The young man's blue eyes were cloudy. He marveled at this stranger's get up and gave inward thanks for his gift.

   T nodded respectfully then furrowed his brow. He never let people stay in his reverie too long. 

   After a moment the two men parted ways. The young man with dreadlocks walked hungrily west toward the market streets, already planning how he would feast. T gazed at the the big Crescent City Connection bridge, squinted happily against the sun, and decided to get on with his day. It would be lunchtime before he knew it, and he had work to do. Emails to return, calls to make, and travel to plan. Maybe.

   For the next forty-five minutes, T ran through the Quarter to sweat out the last of his thoughts. By the time he had reached his hotel again, he knew what to do next. But he'd worked up a spectacular appetite so he ducked into the adjoining open-air restaurant for a late breakfast of eggs, grits, and andouille sausage. Just outside, a street performance was building steam. It was a couple playing the banjo and spoons against a corrugated metal washboard. I love this city, T thought to himself as the waiter served the steaming plate of spicy fare. A cool breeze ruffled the banana leaves standing an easy guard between him and the musicians. He filled his belly, inhaled every detail, and smiled.


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