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The Man and The Coin
I walk down the side walks of New York, City. I hear the sloshing of puddles as the taxis cross over them and the mindless chatter of those around me. The air is thick and bitter. I am starting to feel the chilling pricks on the tops of my ears and the tip of my nose. I readjust my bag on my shoulder and pull my favorite red rain jacket tighter to trap the heat inside.
I am on my way to a very important business meeting. One that could change my life. It would bring me wealth and power and definitely respect. Yes...respect. I need this job. My hand slides into my front pocket. My thumb brushes of a cold, small coin. My lucky coin. I exhale with relief, knowing that it is still there.
Something in the corner of my eye catches my attention and brakes my train of thought. A man. He sits leaning against a wall of an old bakery. He wears no jacket despite the temperature. He has on a thin, ill fitting long-sleeved T-shirt and a pair of dingy jeans. A pair of holey shoes cover most of his feet. His head is leaned back and his eyes are closed. The arch of his neck pulls back his skin and gives him the appearance of a skeleton.
I slow my pace the closer I get. My heart aches a little for this man. I have to wonder what happened in his life to bring him to this point. I throw out my arm and pull back my sleeve and check the time. Ten minutes to make it to the meeting. That one that could change my life. I keep walking past the man.
The meeting is over. Everything went as planned. I said all the right things and made all the right gestures. I still don't feel right. I'm back on the side walks of New York, City. The rain has stopped but the cold still lingers. I know I am coming closer to the old bakery now. I can almost make out the fragile figure of the man behind the crowd of people. I spot him. And this time, I stop.
He is sitting up now. His hair and clothes are still damp from today's earlier showers. His knees are up and his head hangs a little low. This time, the man's eyes are open. Big, brown, and full they are. He looks straight up at me and he is frowning. As if that small movement has put me in a trance, I pull off my red jacket and hold it out for the man.
"Here." I say.
"What is this for?" He says back. His voice is lower than I anticipated.
"It's cold outside. I have more jackets anyway." I reach out farther. "Here." I say again.
The man stands up and walks over to where I stand. With every stride he takes, I can't help but notice he winces. "Thank you." He simply says.
Six years have passed now and I never saw the man leaning against the bakery wall again. I never knew what became of him. He always stayed in the back of my mind.
I ended up not getting the job. It didn't change my life. I didn't get any power or the wealth I once thought I would. I lived an average life. I married, had children, and lived in a suburban home just like anyone else. A quiet life.
I am fifty-seven years old now and I'm back on the side walks of New York, City. A familiar place. I feel the sun on my face, warming my body. I hear the sounds of people hailing taxis and the low murmur of conversation as I walk past an outdoor restaurant.
I am on my way to no where in particular. But I find myself on a familiar path. I see the bakery now. It looks the same as it did six years ago. Except one thing has changed.
I walk slowly to the bakery wall and I sit down to rest in the open space that wasn't there before. I lean my head back and close my eyes. I let my other senses take over. I smell the faint scent of coffee and leather. I hear the shoes of walkers coming in contact with the pavement. I feel a rubbery, plastic blanket lay over legs? I open my eyes.
A man is standing in my view. He is tall, lean, and very clean looking. His face is full and he is smiling. He wears a suit that looks quite expensive. I notice the shine of a gold wedding band around his ring finger of his left hand and in his right hand he holds a brief case. I see his freshly polished shoes.
I use the wall behind me to help me up. I grip the fabric of the red rain coat, that I haven't seen in six years, between my fingers.
"Thank you." He says.
"For what? It was only a jacket. I had many." I reply.
"No. It wasn't. It changed my life. You gave me hope. I now have money to my name, I run a company of my own." He reaches out and shakes my hand. He is very gentle. "I respect your kindness that you gave me that day. Thank you." He says again.
The man turns to walk away but stops. He turns back towards me.
"Here." he says.
I hold my hand out and he drops a coin in it.
"It was in the pocket. It truly is a lucky coin." He simply says.
And he turns and walks away.