On a Sleeping Man in the 163rd Street Subway Station


There was a sleeping man, presumably homeless, in the subway station; as we approached, he turned over and gazed at us with eyes like those of a beaten animal, which is to say both fearful and imploring. He cleared his throat and began to speak in a surprisingly deep and resonant voice, which echoed in the subterranean cavern where we stood. He described his childhood as one of privilege in which no expense had been spared on his well-being and education; as a young man, filled with idealism, he had traveled across plains and over mountains to stand on the shores of vast oceans and proclaim them as his own; returning home he had built an empire of wealth greater than any the world had ever known.

“So how did you end up in the subway station at 163rd Street and Amsterdam Avenue?”

“How should I know?” Suddenly belligerent, he threw an empty bottle at us, but his aim was off and it smashed harmlessly against the wall.

Suddenly we recognized him!

But rather than risk further provocation, we backed away and left him in his corner. The C-train was already approaching and we did not want to miss our morning commute.

Homeless Guy

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