Walking into Five Star Video to drown my sorrows with Katherine Hepburn, I stepped around a man.
He crouched, kinda tucked under the awning.
He wore a dark green tarp to keep the rain off - heavy today - and he checked the straps on two other tarps. They covered piles of stuff. Lumpy. Awkward shapes to carry.
Those tarps, the other two, were yellow and dark blue.
Over his shoulder hung the frame of an office desk drawer.
No bottom, only a white square outline. Made of Melamine, it seemed.
He asked for a dollar. He said a bunch of others things too, but his speech jumbled,
nouns and verbs clumping in awkward groups.
Broken threads. Broken music.
I said, "I'm sorry, sir, but I'm looking for work, and my husband just lost his job."
The man unfolded himself and stood, held out his hand for mine and said,
"Then my name is William. And I have something for you."
He dug in pockets and pulled out a five dollar bill.
While I sounded No, no mumbles, William took my hand.
He put the fiver on my palm and closed my fingers around it.
He said firmly, "No. No, you take this from me. Spend it."
I said, But I, I
and he said, No, you're to take this. You need it.
and i said, but i'm going to spend it on videos. I need to drown my sorrows.
he said, It's yours now, spend it however which way you like.
and i said thank you and he said my name is William and I used to design computer mainframes for IBM and then I worked on the Amtrak lines, 'Whoo-whoo!' to Sacramento when you have five extra dollars and think of it, hand it to someone else. Or give it to your church or buy someone a drink. or buy yourself a drink.
and I said thank you.
Thank you, William
and shook his hand again.
Then. 'Philadelphia Story', 'Captains Courageous' and a Ricky Gervais standup from 2008.
I left the store and turned right, toward William, to thank him again.
He was already standing and said, I have one more thing for you.
I said okay, and stopped in front of him.
He dug in his right jacket pocket and pulled out a roll of quarters.
you go the the store and get two cans of Oatmeal, the rolled kind. And some chocolate chips, and butter and flour and you go to your house and make some cookies today.
I said, Yes. Yes, William. I will. Thank you again.
William adjusted the drawer on his shoulder, picked up the two large tarp bundles and turned away.
He said, "I'm off now."