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  • The city was settling down for the night. The concert hall had long since let out, musicians packed up and gone...only cleaning crews tidying up, as I peered into the darkened lobby. I was heading for home, having untied my own apron strings. I passed the doorway where the fortuneteller sits and the market where the freshly cut flowers line the sidewalk like little joy soldiers. It had been a particularly hard night of being subservient. I wished the market were still open. Flowers would have been nice.

    I was approaching the revolving door of a twenty story apartment building I once lived in when, “Huh-wuuup!” a piece of garbage came flying through the air and crashed into the middle of the quiet street. “Huh-wuuuup!”. Another piece of trash launched into the air, coming from a place tucked just around the corner. Along with the trash, verbal sound effects and expletives. Each crushed up ball of refuse that flew had an "asshole!" or an "F-U!" attached, like a kite tail.

    At first all I saw was the parade of dumpsters that sit at the foot of the high-rise on its most hidden-from-street-view side. I lived in that building for three years. I know to watch out for giant cockroaches and the dripping grease that puddles from the exhaust fan across the street.

    Then I saw him. He was like camouflage.

    His skin was purple-black and shiny. I could see the deep and furrowed crevices that creased his life and forehead. He could have been thirty or sixty. His parka was covered in stains of grease and the faux fur that lined his hood sadly tried and failed to be fun. I was glad he had it, though, as it was called to go down to seven degrees (F) that night.

    He didn’t see me and I watched him peripherally. I know not to make eye contact anymore. My heart can only break so many times. He was throwing that trash into the street like it was lace covered throw pillows from an overly dressed California King. He was making his bed for the night. Since the dumpsters were filled, maintenance piled the overflow next to the dumpsters. He was hollowing out his “spot” and cussing the guys (that weren’t there) who had thrown trash all over his bed. He was Angry with a capital A. I could sense his anger went much deeper than the trash. (Gee…ya think!? The guy is curling up next to a dumpster in seven degree weather…!? Does it really take a detective or a mental health professional?!)

    He stood erect and backed up to survey his work when he noticed me crossing.

    “Oh, Ma’am! I’m sorry. I didn’t see you there. I hope I didn’t offend or scare you.”

    He smiled and his creases softened...like there was nothing wrong or odd about where he was tucking himself in for the night...as if it were his choice...the most normal thing in the world for a lady to be crossing the intersection in the middle of his bedroom.
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    In the beginning of the movie, My Man Godfrey, the wealthiest of wealthy people are gathered for a grand affair. They are playing in a scavenger hunt, dressed in furs and diamonds, top hats and tuxedos. The final item on the scavenger list, the players must bring back a “Forgotten Man”. It was the first time I had ever heard the term. It struck me deeply. It really is quite a label, isn’t it?

    When I finally got out of my cab, fed the cats, rubbed my feet and pulled the crisp, white, eight thousand count sheets up over my shoulders, I thought of the man next to the dumpster. I climbed back out of bed to tell you about him… just so he won’t be forgotten.
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    *written a few years ago and republished-so He won't be forgotten.
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