Walking to the neighborhood store, my small, beautiful dog straining at his red leash, and I in my big winter jacket against an April freeze and this light battering of rain — a young man approaches us, can of beer and a Lotto ticket in his hand. He coos at the dog: “Little Lassie,” he says. I don’t know this boy, he’s strange to the neighborhood. He is somewhere near twenty, his clothes are bad, savaged from his sleep and incessant use. I notice his eyes, seasonless clouds beneath the innocence of his unwashed hair. Got any extra change? he finally asks, his voice without the questioning rise, but tight and flat as if pressed through a hand guarding his face. I reach in my wallet and give the boy everything, the way I would give to my son: homeless once, without work or esteem, lonely in that East Bay shelter for the one true life that could fit with him; and how he told no one until he came to me, and I took him in.