He was sitting on a bench on Chapel Street across from the pizza parlor when I saw him. At first he seemed very much like your run-of-the-mill typical homeless guy; he had a filthy knit cap on, with some unrecognizable professional sports team's logo scrawled across the front, a scraggly salt-and-pepper beard, a ripped starter jacket, hopsack pants that could have been nearly as old as he, one sneaker wrapped in a plastic shopping bag.

As I approached him, though, his eyes met mine, and I was startled. He lacked the almost necessary bloodshot eyes of the homeless, the eyes that tell of unremembered nights spent drinking the pain to a dull numbness, of freezing, comatose until your drool stuck your face to the cement in a living lacquer, of getting up and wandering the days with a paper cup and an apathy for whether there was enough in there for food, as long as the next forty was on its way. His eyes were clear, lucid, bright.

He smiled at me, and after a startled moment, I realized I was smiling back. Now unsure about this man, I observed he had a sign, a cardboard scrap with black magic marker scrawled on it. It took me a moment, but I'm sure of what it said.

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
Donations accepted.

I didn't have any money, so I gave him my gloves.

I didn't know anyone read that anymore.