His fingers were starting to numb in the bite of dusk. Wind was kicking up too. The job wasn’t easy, panhandling.
Every morning between the hours of six and nine he would stand on the lane island on Washington St. and War Memorial.
War Memorial he thought. The perfect name for the perfect irony: a veteran of two major wars panhandling to a mass of civilians who would probably never hear the pop of an IED or the crackle of an AK-47. Sometimes he laughed at the irony before remembering his buddy and the tourniquet he tightened around the man’s leg.
After the morning hours, Troy would return to the intersection from eleven to one and again from four to seven. Drivers mostly ignored him, pretending his existence was a mirage. Others were kind enough to spare a couple of dollars. Some loose change. A bag of chips.
But then there were others, less kind. People telling him to get a job. Find work. The worst were people actually giving him job applications, claiming they could use Troy on their team.
It’s not that he didn’t want to work. He relished the thought. Being somewhere warm, with a steady paycheck. But with no address, no phone number, and a criminal record of trespassing, public indecency, and resisting arrest, the good folks in human resources always took a pass.
It was no mind, though. Checking the time on a cheap watch he dug out of a dumpster, Troy decided to leave. Crossing the street and strolling down War Memorial, Troy hiked nearly three miles to get to where he needed to be. Within the underpass, he found his spot and took off his sack. Inside was a blanket and a bag of Cheetos someone gave him.
After he wrapped himself in the blanket and opened the chips, he could hear the panting. Just like clockwork. A somewhat scrawny, albeit happy, chocolate lab trotted over. Troy handed the dog a Cheeto and she laid next to him. He patted the dog and said, “Good girl.”
He was home, where he belonged.