The Old Ragged Man
On Barton Avenue, walking south one can see how slowly it gets busy at dawn in Barnacle. Vendors open street coffee stands, slide up their rolling doors, sweep their store front and hose down the malodorous fumes from the night before. The same pattern of waking happens on the busiest streets in Barnacle. In convenience stores, owners greet the early birds who buy some snacks before heading to their jobs. People perambulate in front of the main post office on South Barton Avenue until it opens at 9:00 a.m.
By 10:00 a.m., shops, stores and government offices run as usual. Fanny, a young psychologist, has graduated at Barnacle University. She knows her city as well as the content of her pocket. She often races her bike on the streets of Barnacle. But Monday morning she strolls down Barton Avenue heading to the French bakery, the sweet-eatery, her favorite spot, to pick up a loaf of bread and croissants.
Further, south on Barton Avenue, Fanny once a month stops at the Epicurean store craving for a small order besides a complementary treat from the buffet as she lives on a tight budget on such fancy food. Monday morning, when she enters the Epicurean deli shop she finds a display of freshly prepared colorful appetizers and entrees. She buys some fish with spicy Asian sauce to take out. As she exits, Tom, one of her residence’s neighbor runs into her in front of the store.
“Hi Fanny,” Tom says. “I see, you treat yourself with a delicacy.”
“Something to share in your menu”?
“Nope,” Fanny says calmly. “I relish my only once a month treat, sorry.” Indifferent to Tom’s talk, she leaves.
She often observes people on the streets of Barnacle: she even talks sometimes to homeless people and inquires about their situation. If she finds the time, she assists them, and guide them to the closest Salvation Army shelter to get free health care and food.
Although the city of Barnacle tries to keep the homeless off the main streets, these places ideally attract the poorest people to conglomerate and to beg openly clinging to life. Fanny ambles on Barton Avenue back toward her apartment on 21st street and Barton Avenue. She halts at the corner store at Woolworth where people wait to cross the streets at the red light. She enters the store to browse sandals and buys a cool pair for the summer to come. On her way out, an old man leaning against the wall of the store’s building draws her attention. Shoulders round, figure weakened, and members emaciated, he stands with his knees and arms bent. In his rags, gazing into nowhere, he displays a grim quirky smile. Passersby slant their eyes for such a crowd and often look away.
Curious about the situation of this fatigued human, Fanny slows down her pace at the busy corner street in front of Woolworth packed with pedestrians. She looks at this half broken silhouette; his hands hidden behind his lower body, the man stands crushed against the wall.
”Hi,” Fanny greets the stranger.