Steve Meador is the author of Throwing Percy from the Cherry Tree, a poetry book that was an entrant for a National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize in poetry. He is widely published in online and print journals. He has been a real estate broker since the early 1980s and currently lives and practices in the Tampa, FL, area.
Monday, December 26, 2011
No Resurrection, Only Coffee
I know him either as Roy, short for Royal, or RJ, short for Royal James. Which he claims, in a slurred half-chuckle, has nothing to do with royalty, although he is from Scotland. That is easy to detect in his voice. He knows me only as the man who will provide him a bite to eat or a cup of coffee, but not a penny of money. I told him why at our first encounter, when he asked if I could “spare a dollar….how ‘bout a quarter…how ‘bout a dime, then.” I would guess him to be around five and a half feet tall and about one twenty, but he is not weathered or emaciated, like many of the homeless folks. Roy has simply been worn a good bit. He appears to be in his forties. I always see him in the same area, a busy intersection, gas station/convenience stores on diagonal corners and fast food restaurants on the other two.
Roy told me he has been here a short while, in this country, and that with the economy as it is, employment has eluded him a few times. He becomes talkative in less than a minute from the beginning of our encounters and has shared that he was a Navy Seal in the middle east and other hot spots around the world. Places ranging from jungles to the sandbox to the big iceberg. He has done dastardly and deadly deeds for his country, whichever that may be, and could really spill the beans (or haggis) if he really wanted. But right now all he needs is a little food and some work to get him on the straight again.
As we were chatting during today’s visit, a car pulled into a parking space in front of us. Roy stopped talking, took a couple of steps toward the car and lifted a dragonfly off the grill. He placed it on his palm, where it fluttered its wings for maybe half a minute, then died. “Nothing I could do for him,” Roy says, and placed the dragonfly under a bush near the sidewalk. Something struck me as unusual about the scene. It had nothing to do with Roy’s loss of reality, or super-embellishment of reality, whichever applied to him on this day. It was his hands. They were young, almost delicate, not the hands of a hardened deadly deed doer. I noticed no calluses or roughness, only a small cut. As though all in his life has been lost, or deemed no longer of value, except for his hands. And those are his last treasure, which he perhaps hopes will possess the magic to restore whatever they touch. Our coffees steamed, our sips the loudest noise between us.