Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Writing is flowing through my veins ~ must practice

The sky was covered in dark, grey clouds, on this fall morning in Bonn, Germany. As I had done the day before, I was on my bike, riding down a path along the Rhine River to work. It looked as if it might rain. Only, the weatherman on the news had said it should clear up by early afternoon, and that the sun would shine for the rest of the day. I reassured me enough to take the chance and still bike to work.

Today for some reason was the first day I noticed, that in this small city, there was a great amount of traffic; especially that of bicycles. Everyone fought fearlessly, to make it to wherever their destination was, be it work or just on an errand. There was always a sense of urgency to be there on time.

As I approached the little town of Plittersdorf where I worked, the air seemed to be a bit colder and the sounds in the air a bit louder. The school where I worked overlooked the Rhine River. The scenery was a picturesque view of old houses, green hills lined with tress and a slight scent of burning firewood always filled the air. At my destination, I slowed the bike down to a full stop, dismounted and began walking away from the path; eventually entering the schools’ soccer fields, I noticed a man sleeping under a tree directly in front of me.

His body was half covered by an old worn out blanket and his feet were sticking out. He had on four layers of socks on and no shoes. A medium sized hole on the big toe of his right foot exposed a small area of flesh that was dirty. I walked towards him slowly, to get a better look. He was breathing softly and mumbling to himself in his dream; perhaps he was dreaming of a better life.

The coat he was wearing looked stiff. It had a slight coating of mud and various unrecognizable stains that covered it. He had a thick salt and pepper beard that was turning slightly yellow in color. The type of yellowish stains you would get from tobacco smoke. The skin on his face was drawn tight and looked tough; like an elephant’s hide, full of wrinkles.

As I watched him sleep, I could picture him in is younger years, possibly living deep within the jungles in some far away land, where the sun always shined; living it up with his friends and feasting on fabulous exotic foods and drinks. It was not a surprise to see that today, he still drank. Not only could I tell from the smell that surrounded him, but also from the half empty bottle of gin that was nestled next to his stomach.

He must have sensed at that point that I was watching him. He began to shift himself slightly and was breathing a bit heavier. Scared that he was going to awake, I began to walk away slowly, and in a backwards motion, so that I could still observe him.

He suddenly let out a deep choking cough that jolted him out of his deep sleep. He sat upright, looked around and took a swig from the gin bottle. Like a small child he lifted himself up from his hands to a standing position and spread his arms into the air to stretch. He reached down grabbing the bottle, blanket and all his other belongings. With small staggering steps he walked towards the water.

People passing him went around him or avoided him all together; occasionally looking back at him after they had passed. He climbed slowly over the rails leading to the water and was no longer in my sight.

From the distance though, I could hear the splashing of water and envisioned him cleaning himself up, by taking a bath in the Rhein.

I turned around and headed back towards the school. Wondering not only what my day would be like, but what his would be like as well.


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