Not a rainbow but …
… I was taking a shortcut through the Boston Public Library, making my way from the Boylston Street entrance to the Dartmouth Street side. Of course I had to pause for a quick browse of the New Arrivals shelf. That’s where I saw the deed take place.
It would be easy to assume that the old man was homeless, one of the many who frequent the building. His clothing was bedraggled to say the least and his beard more than a bit unkempt. His brown skin was weathered into the proverbial leather. Despite apparent age, there was an almost childish bright light in his rheumy eyes. While he walked with the aid of a battered metal cane, there was a spryness to his step as he made his way across the room. But, I have to admit, I noticed none of these details until later, until after I heard the young man’s voice calling, “Hey. Hey! Wait a minute, old man.”
The old man had been walking away from me, but he turned at the younger man’s voice, and that was how I was able to see his face. The younger man had been walking toward me, looking gruff and rushed as so many of us do today as we race, race, race. I had seen him brush passed the old man nearly knocking him over. But then he had stopped. The gruff look upon his face had not changed. In fact, it deepened.
At some point the younger man spun around. With a fierce, aggressive energy, he called the old man. When the man paused and turned to face him, the young man raced back to him. “Here,” he said, and shoved something into the old man’s hand.
The old man raised a plastic bag. It was just clear enough for me to see that inside were a pair of shoes. I glanced down and saw what the younger man may have seen. The old man’s feet were barely covered by a pair of threadbare sneakers.
“Where did these come from?” the old man asked, clearly perplexed. The younger man had already turned away. Over his shoulder he growled, “St. Francis.”
The older man looked at the bag, shrugged, and continued on his way.