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A Man’s Last Smile

A brief encounter between a have and a have-not.

I was walking and saw a homeless man sitting on the street.
His shirt and pants were in pretty bad shape, like the unlaced shoes on his feet.
He was filthy and he was smelly and he looked like a potential threat.
My impulse was to get as far away as I could get.

I didn’t know what his story was. I’d never think to ask.
I didn’t want to hear some rant or possibly be taken to task.
But as I stared his eyes met mine, and I felt them draw me in.
When I approached he began to talk as he scratched a scabby chin.

“Hello there, sir,” he said to me from his dirty sidewalk seat.
“I saw you staring at me when you were coming down the street.
I don’t talk much with people like you, so well-dressed and so clean.
Usually they just walk right by or utter something mean.”

I was a bit ashamed after I heard what he had said.
I could feel my cheeks and forehead turn a deep bright red.
I quickly replied, “I’m sorry that many people are that way.
But the sun is bright, it’ll be warm tonight, let’s enjoy this beautiful day!”

He started grinning ear-to-ear, and his eyes were suddenly bright.
He laughed aloud and said, “That’s true. I won’t be cold tonight!”
And then he flashed a yellow smile and his beaming eyes became wide.
And then I saw those eyes glaze over, and he tipped and quietly died.

I poked him very cautiously and asked, “Are you o.k.?”
But it was painfully obvious that he had passed away.
I looked around to find some help but we were all alone.
I reached into my pocket but did not have my cell phone.

That last big smile was frozen there upon his grimy face.
He was happy as he left his mundane mortal place.
I reached down with my fingers and I gently closed his eyes.
And then I sat down next to him and had my silent cries.

The simplest of human contact had afforded him such pleasure.
The tiniest act of humanity had become his final treasure.
After I saw his body removed I took a very long walk.
Since then I think a little bit more before I start to talk.
This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than storiesspace.com with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

Copyright © © Lee Goldberg 2011, 2012, 2013. All Rights Reserved. Contact info: leegpoetry@gmail.com

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