“Loneliness in the Big Apple”

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Bill wakes in a doorway when the weather can’t please. Winter lurks like a mugger in shadows at the end of the road. But he’s happy to be alone. He stirs and thinks about his day, searching for reason to get to his feet because there isn’t always one. He takes a deep breath and pumps his aching lungs. He finds enough powder in his tobacco pouch to make a cigarette worth toking. He rubs his eyes and squints at the sun at last sending soothing lozenges through the tenements across the way, then places the paper cup between his legs, waiting for the clicking of shoes on the sidewalk, shoes worn by those with an agenda, with a place to be and people to be in there with.
“Morning,” says the man who sometimes stops by in shiny patent brogues.
“Nice day,” Bill says to the shoes.
“Sure is, now the sun’s up,” says the man, “So how did you sleep Buddy?”
“Lying down I guess,” says Bill, and they laugh.
“Have yourself a burger,” says the man, shoving twenty bucks into the cup before moving along towards the place he needs to be with the people he needs to be with.
Bill thanks him kindly but the words are lost in the rush hour. “God bless.”
It is not always so easy. Some days he doesn’t eat. He just listens to his radio and thinks and sometimes sings for his supper because the radio says singing is good for the soul.  If his soul is full he believes his stomach is too. When he’s thinking he’s thinking of other cities he’s been; Sydney, Melbourne, Paris, London, Budapest, Big Apple… He doesn’t need to move when the world is still in his head. He can be anywhere he likes and he doesn’t mind if nobody’s there to greet him.
“I am happy to be alone,” he sings, “So who wants me?”

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