Union Station was littered and in disrepair, 'Out Of Order' signs bore witness. Discarded chewing gum and empty bottles, and the smells emanating from unemptied trash baskets... and in the midst of all this dislocation there he was...
huddled in his wheelchair, his tray of trinkets proudly perched on a cardboard box, a makeshift table. Always cheerful, greeting commuters as they hurried past, but they never returned the smile forever gracing his weathered face. One day I stopped to say hello. His eyes brightened as he said,
"Good day to you, good sir!" Can I interest you in any of my treasures?"
I noticed he was shoeless, sockless, and made a mental note.
"Right now I have to catch a train,
but I'll return when I have more time,
you have my word."
"I'll be here, this is my world, you'll
always be most welcome!" he explained,
and I disappeared into the teeming crowd. Foregoing my schedule I returned the next day, anxious to peruse his wares, and continue our conversation. It turned out he was a Vet who'd fallen on hard times. I sat and listened while he told me his story. A man displaced by a society who would forever be in his debt. "I'll be right back," I said. I had a plan. Returning from the store, armed with sneakers, socks and a sponge, I cleaned his feet, pulled on his socks and laced up his brand new Nikes. He was overwhelmed, and by way of payment gave me a pendant bearing the inscription, 'Semper Fi.'
"This will bring you good fortune, my friend,
wear it, and your heart will be free of strife,
and your days will be filled with sunshine!
Remember me and treasure it, that is all I ask."
Next day, as I was crossing the concourse, I saw he was no longer at his station,
my friend, his wheelchair, and his tray of trinkets all were gone. I hoped that where he went he was cared for and comforted, and if he had shuffled off this mortal coil that he was in the arms of God.
Was he seen by anyone but me?
I believed with all my heart he was an Angel...