Because we didn’t know his name, and he played air guitar outside Family Dollar, we called him Air Guitar Eddy. He had two dogs. We called the pit bull Pitbull, and the other, a terrier, Funky Bitch. Funky Bitch was pregnant, bursting at the seams, and she would sit and pant in the shade. Because it was Family Dollar, Air Guitar Eddy, Pitbull, and Funky Bitch didn’t get much by way of charity.
Sobola’s standing on his head against an artist painted wall, pumping upside down pushups. The backs of his feet slide up and down the surf wave mural bricks. From his close to ground position, he views a reversal world, the feet of the curious street crowd. Beside him, on left and right, two volunteers participate. Cindy Lou and Nick. They pushup for their totem animal. They volunteered to participate in this busker challenge.
“And then she invited him over for lunch! Her man’s not dead a year and she’s already at that bowls club on the prowl.” The old woman’s bonnet bounced up and down as she spoke. The rain continued to pound the pavement as she and her friend passed. Sam listened to her story, smiling a little. If they hadn’t been walking right in front of him he might have thought that they were speaking to each other from across the road, their voices were that loud. He wondered if they realised how loud they were, if they were both hard of hearing or just assumed the other was because of their age.
I see the guitar case first, full more of hope than of the hard currency of shining coins. The kid sits on the pavement, half-hidden in the shadow of a low granite wall. He’s doing a pretty fair rendition of Hey Joe, working a beat-up acoustic guitar. The thing needs new strings, but he’s getting it done. That strange magic, the universal language of rock lyrics, washes away the kid’s Austrian accent. The chords walk down the neck, Joe kills his woman, the crowd ignores the kid.
He was a black man.
“Yo Nigga! to his friends but these days he didn’t have any.
The night I asked Lena to drop out of high school and marry me, it was freezing. We were waiting out a fall hailstorm, hunkered together under the awning of Kennywood Amusement Park’s Haunted House which was Lena’s favorite ride, even though she rode it with her eyes closed. “Oh, Lennerd,” she said, “Yes. Yes!” Afterwards, we rode the neck-whipping wooden coaster, Thunderbolt, and she was a good sport about it.
I catch the sunrise over the bridge every morning before I sit down by the subway. It’s not because I particularly enjoy sunrises or because I somehow find comfort in them. It’s just on my way. That’s it. I live on the other side of the bridge and since most workers get up early, I also have to get up early. I try to hurry over. For some reason it’s easier to imagine us without a home. It’s within the very term homeless. It does happen that someone recognizes me and when they do, they’ll never again share a few coins. The magic is gone. I’m no longer just that homeless man who sits there waiting for them when they go to work, and still waits for them when they go home.