The Power of a Barnes and Noble Stranger

Lee Jeffries' "Homeless"

Lee Jeffries’ “Homeless”

His wrinkles blanket his face in quite the peculiar manner almost as if they don’t belong there. Almost as if he’s lived a thousand years beyond his age; like he wasn’t supposed to see the pain that caused them to be, there, on his face, in the first place. Each turn of each fissure and crevice holds a story. His eyes are sad and heavy. His skin is dark and weathered.

Tethered.

Leathered.

He’s looking at me…

Fuck.

I wonder if he ever thinks about life and how he wishes it could be. I wonder if he believes in the fountain of youth.  I wonder if he’s ever fallen victim to a one night stand or if he ever shoves his fingers down his throat and calls it success. I wonder if he’s ever felt the bass drop or if he’s ever ignited a lighter or a house; I wonder if he lights up joints in front of his children.

I wonder if he’s ever had a place to call home or a shoulder to cry on or if he’s ever been called worthless or ever waited for a phone call for 6 years and counting; I wonder if he’s ever pressed the “Report Abuse” button and hoped that something would happen. But nothing ever did. And nothing ever would.

Because, sometimes, the things we want the most never come.

I wonder if he’s ever been through chemotherapy; psychotherapy?

I wonder if he says all of his Hail Mary’s.

I wonder if he knows about me and about this; that I am sitting ten feet away from him- judging, assuming, narrating.

I wonder if he knows what it’s like to have an addiction; to believe, whole heartedly, that that is who you are and what you were destined to be and that you could never be anything more. I wonder if he knows what it’s like to feel that while every day you gain control you are, in turn, losing control. I wonder if he knows what it’s like to be so submerged in sickness that you no longer know the difference between what life was like before and how it is now; when the pros no longer outweigh the cons.

I wonder if he’s ever shot up.

I wonder if he could’ve saved me.

I wonder if he knows the power of a Barnes and Noble stranger.

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