The day was strange. This was Sunday late afternoon, early evening. The sky darkened with threatening clouds, the temperature dropped and the wind picked up. The weather was perfect. There was hardly anyone outside. The streets were nearly bare. Far less cars than usual and only a few people standing around idle or hustling to avoid imminent weather, and it was this sparsity of people, the day being Sunday, and the incoming weather that caused people to come out of character. I would walk only two blocks total and cross the broad street twice yet I was accosted for conversation six times and that is unusual. On any other day people are too busy to strike up idle conversations with strangers. While two people called me out on sight. I like it. What a fantastic city this is.
Men standing idly observing weather move in and just feeling the changes in atmosphere strike it up as I pass.
Within half a block as I pass by an open door to a bar a voice inside yells at someone to hold up. Someone inside has something to say to someone. It was a man who lives in my building. He's talking to me. I foisted on him a small pot of dirt with a large caladium rhizome buried inside. I added a small handful of morning glory seeds and those things germinate in two days. He didn't want them. He told me so. But I didn't care. His excuse for not having plants was lame. His balcony is too shaded. These things do well in shaded areas. What the heck. All he has to do is keep them damp. So I left the small pot of dirt at his door.
At the corner of the next block a man pushing a cart is curious about the reason why I'm using two canes. I thought he was going to ask me for cash. But he was only curious. The weather was moving in and I didn't have time to stand there and explain things.
I buy the peaches and a few other things and while inside the market the sky cracks open and gushes rain. It will be temporary. From the street I saw the edges of dark clouds with light beyond them in all directions. The clouds will dump their load and that's it. Typical summer storm. But a good one. Good and hard.
Other people at the market finished shopping were waiting outside for the rain to let up. But I like walking in rain. And when I get soaked I can peel off my clothes at home. No problem. No pneumonia. No nothing. Just walk in the rain and get soaked.
I passed two men tucked tightly in a doorway smoking cigarettes and watching the downpour. As I passed I told them the rain will stop right when I get to my destination. I wasn't being funny or cynical. That was a real prediction verbalized. One of the men repeated what I said except oddly he said it backwards. I smelled beer.
I walked one block unprotected feeling the rain and the cool wind. It's fun. At the next corner a boy exiting the bodega called my name. He tore off in the direction I was headed. I encountered him again behind the counter at the sandwich shop. I bought two. I planned to give one away to the guy working the counter across the street inside the liquor store on my side of the street, in my building. This was a bit of a risk. Maybe he already had lunch. Maybe he doesn't accept such strange things. Who knows?
I actually went there twice. My backpack was full so I'd go upstairs to unload it then come back for a 12-pack of Cokes. In the space of my absence he had already consumed the sandwich I gave him. And I hadn't even started mine. Apparently people eat these things fast. And the potato chips. I returned with one of the peaches. That was the whole point, after all.
He was grateful. He told me he was hungry, that was working alone on Sunday and didn't have a chance to step out. That's been the case so far with all previous of these foot-long sandwiches. This return trip another man was there overhearing our conversation. It was none of his business but he was still tickled with what he heard. "I had them put extra cheese on it." For some reason the uninvolved man thought that was amusing.
On my way out a young couple was coming in. They held open the door. The woman complimented my pants as I passed through. It took me a moment to realize she was talking about me. I hesitated. "Thank you." Now they're behind me and she said something else I couldn't make out.
Then back in my portion of our shared building an obese man who I hadn't seen before was well ahead of me going inside. It would have been perfectly acceptable for him to simply go on. Instead, he stayed at the door with it opened anticipating my entry and he held it for a ridiculously long time. If I could move faster I would. But I can't.
Like everyone else out this day, he just wanted to talk.
Then the oddest thing. He said, "You're soaking wet." He was only going to the third floor so this was brief. I told him a long time ago I was laid up literally for years. When I got up and went outside my brother helped me and escorted me on a bike ride down Cherry Creek. We rode for as long as I could. We were caught up in the rain like today and it was glorious. Ding. His floor. The doors opened. He exited laughing. "Ha! That's fantastic. Ha ha, oh, that great." As he disappeared around the corner and the doors closed, "Ha ha ha, oh that's just wonderful."
And it is.
All of that in a mere two blocks and one short errand for peaches. I love this place. On certain days.