With fists, with words, with kindness
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He was skirting the outdoor tables, smelling faintly of urine,
singing his song and muttering naughty comments that made us
smile, and I wondered how life would have been different
if he’d been my dad. I shared this thought with my companion,
who gave me a look that mingled pity with disgust, which isn’t
easy. It seemed it might be wise to keep my musings to myself.
When the salad came, I noted that the sharpness of the dressing
had avoided all hints of bitterness. A miracle of balance, I said.
And I thought I could taste a hint of melon in the wine.
But in reality I was still following the tottering gait of my imagined
father across the plaza, shadowing him through the evening
until he eventually went slack and I carried him back to his den
beneath the overpass, where I wrapped him carefully in his tarp
and waited until his breathing deepened and I knew he was asleep.