It's My Birthday

Walking in the cold early winter wind
the city is decorated for the holiday season
I walk down Michigan Avenue
an old man sits on the sidewalk and rocks back and forth
He's wearing a soiled Santa cap
“ Please help me, I am an old vet.”
The wind picks up and people continue to pass him
“ I’m hungry, help me get something to eat.”
People do not look down, they just keep walking
I stopped a few feet away from him
and smoke a cigarette and watch.
“ It’s my birthday today, I’m 67 years old, please help me”
A woman wearing a full-length mink coat, pushing her walker
almost runs over his legs. She stops and looks down at him.
The wind howls and she yells,
“ Move your legs so I can get by…”
“Please help me.”
“ I need to get by…”
“Any change would be greatly appreciated.”
She goes into her designer purse
and pulls out a dollar.
She drops it towards where he is sitting
but the wind takes it away.
He jumps up and weaves through the crowd
frantically trying to catch the runaway bill.
She smiles and pushes her titanium walker into the wind.
I flick my cigarette onto the sidewalk
where it gets trampled by hundreds of feet without faces
I begin to walk back to work
the clouds are giving way to some sun rays
I pull my coat collar up and stick my hands in my pockets
The wind is getting stronger, traffic is at a stand still
then I faintly hear his voice behind me,
“ It’s my birthday today…”

by Charles Lara

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