He shuffles off down the street, looking for another safe space, another place to lay down and rest his tired and broken body and his weeping soul.
He puts his meager belongings into his ragged and dirty backpack.
Slowly he folds up his mat. You don’t need to watch me, I’ll go. I’m going, leave me be. He hisses at the security guard. Slowly he rises.
Uncle, now! I won’t say it again, do you want me to call the cops on you? Get your things and go.
This is his invisible spot. Young punks, paint sniffers, druggies, crazies, aggressive policemen, rich kids on vacation who leave behind all inhibition and taunt him, or worse, all ignore him when he’s in this place. He feels safe, here, under this phone booth. The old man slowly looks up. He doesn’t want to go.
Uncle you need to go. Uncle, you cannot stay here.
Security guard walks up.
Lunch at Murphy’s, drinks after work, shopping at Ala Moana on the weekend crowding out all thoughts of his pitiful face under the telephone booth.
They forget him as soon as they walk by. They shrug. But what can we do?
Poor man, they murmur to each other.
Careful not to be mean, not to insult nor to judge. They avert their eyes.
Their bright Aloha shirts and muumuu a stark contrast to his dirty shorts, torn jacket, hair shorn to prevent lice and bed bugs.
He doesn’t ask for money, he doesn’t beg.
Careful not to look his way.
He watches the businessmen and women walking past.
One eye peers out between his many bags. The grizzled hand of the old man pokes out.
Under the cardboard, green plants, sunlight slanting.
Prompt: March 2023 Year of the Rabbit Bamboo Shoots Writing Contest Prompts