I have seen many people in my short lifetime. Felt many heartaches, witnessed many first loves blossom, and lost many friends. I have celebrated many birthdays and other happy occasions, and though most have faded from memory... a few people I can't seem to forget.
The hobo that sleeps on my bench every night, for one. He won't let me forget him. I feel sorry for him. Night after night, rain or shine, cold or warm he is here like clockwork the same time each night. The nights are colder and it is winter now. My roof has snow on it. He will not have enough clothes on when he shows up tonight, and I am afraid he will never wake up.
I see him in the distance as he makes his way to me. As he gets closer I can see him sway with the wind. He stumbles on my steps as he greets me, then goes to his favorite bench, mutters a few words that I don't understand, and then lays down. He snores almost immediately. His hair is long and untamed and he does not wear a hat. He has a beard that is not combed. Tonight he has a coat on and I am happy. A breeze blows the tattered and torn scarf around his neck. I guard him as he sleeps like a mother watches her child.
Last night two nice policemen came and woke him from his sleep and went with them to a nice warm shelter with closed walls and heat. My walls are open and I have no heat except if the sun comes out. I watched them lead him to the building, it is across the street. They made sure he was fed before they left him and resumed their duties. He seemed happy as he smiled at them. I hope they come to get him tonight. It is cold out here.
They have visited other times too. Sometimes they don't see him asleep on my bench because he is hidden behind my wall. Those were the nights I worried about him the most. When the wind rushes right through me and I'm sure through him too. A snowflake would land on his face and he would move to brush it away, and I knew he is still alive.
As I reminisce this night passes quickly. The sun rises and it is a new day. I see him wake, stretch, and then leave the way he came. I watch him til he is but a tiny speck in the distance. I always watch him. I have been watching him for many years, and as the years have passed I watch him move more slowly. No one ever talks to him, except the two policemen that lead him away. I never see him bring a loved one. He mutters to himself sometimes, but I do not understand a word he says.
The day rushes on and I think of him now and then and wonder where he goes during the day. I hope he is not alone. I wish him a warm place tonight. It is a special night... Tonight... is Christmas Night. I watch as someone decorates my roof with greens and bows. As night arrives, he approaches I can hear him humming a tune. Slowly and distinctly he sings about a baby in a manger. I hear every word. I am moved by his singing. He sings like an angel. I've never heard him sing before. Tonight he seems happy. He sits on my bench and then lies across it to sleep. He looks peaceful.
The two policemen arrive in the morning. Fresh snow has fallen and they do not see his footsteps. One man turns to walk away but the other presses him to walk around to the other side. They walk to the back and see him lying on the bench. They touch his shoulder and he does not move. They try to wake him up harder and he does not budge. "Wake up" I yell. But he does not stir.
Soon I see an ambulance arrive and they take him away. He never returns and as the days turn into months I realize I miss him. I hum HIS tune often as I watch the people go by.