The heat index is a sweltering, vapid, 105 degrees Fahrenheit. The man with closed eyes is wasting away on an aluminum bus stop bench on the corner of 25th and Hennepin. Despite the heat, he wears a light down coat and jeans to protect him from the elements. His feet are bare except for a battered pair of pink flip flops. He holds with one hand, a sketch pad full of scribbled, cursive lines. The other hand rests on his knee, this hand is heavy and it trembles. The pencil tucked in it ticks like a metronome. There are four, two liter bottles of Sprite strategically placed at his feet. He smokes an unlit cigarette through his catcher mitt face and his eyes remain closed.
The visions inside his head are a melodious symphony of the days of his youth in Vietnam. Before bloodshed, when the river would rise, he would fish. This vision also has wallowing water buffalo, swishing their tails in the murky water. While the vision fades and changes to days in Argentina, he hisses a gurgled sound of disgust, rocks, and waits for his youth to return.
He chants prayers as the people walk by, the people return the prayer by looking at the ground and quickening their pace. For three days he does this, disappearing at dusk and returning at dawn, like magic. Attempting to observe his departure or return is like trying to catch the hour hand move on a clock. .. If you look closely, less than ten gray hairs grow out of his stretched chin. More hair grows from his ears, his head is an ocean of fine baby wisps that fold in the wrinkles of his head.
With the beginning of each day, he has more gifts from the people that pass him on their commute; a banana, orange, a gallon of water. The offering remains untouched, without regard from the man of closed eyes. He is thinking of his indentured service as butler to Germans in Argentina. He escaped, Hopping from port to port as labor. He is remembering the beatings and bellows a harsh scream into the humid air. The dismayed commuters waiting for their bus turn their heads for a brief minute and return their gaze to the street.
The last day brings the police. He is passive, mentally ill. The police are impatient with the heat, and decide to move him. He does not move, he is limp and weary. The policemen think that there is a skeleton under the heavy clothes and they are right. In his hand, he still clutches the sketch pad, the pencil falls to the asphalt as his hand falls like a curtain to his side. The police are supporting him, dragging him to the cruiser. His long cracked toenails scrape across the sidewalk and the bottoms of his feet are a dusty white.
The Sprite bottles and offerings remained until one of the station employees dutifully removed them.