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Today, it’s raining hard. In the street outside, everything—awnings and rain jackets and tree branches—leans west in the wind. People are walking fast, even for New York.
Through my window, I see a homeless man huddled against the wet brownstone of the apartment across the street. Dripping, dejected. Like a stray dog. I’d give him a dollar if I was down on the street, but I’m three stories up and wrapped in a blanket and forcing myself into the rain is the last thing I want to do.
A family of four hurries by the huddled man, the mother ushering the children along. The son, probably no more than nine, hesitates, looks back at the homeless man. He turns. Takes of his child sized rain jacket, is instantly drenched. Runs back to the man, whose head raises from his chest. The mother is angry, pulling the son’s arm, but the child is determined. The man takes the jacket. The mother shouts at the man. The man does not hear or does not care. The jacket is blue and covers barely half his torso. The man stands and limps across the street.
The mother is angry. The boy is crying. The homeless man stumbles towards my apartment.
I look around my living room. There’s a bowl of fruit on kitchen table, a closet full of coats, the fuzzy blanket wrapped around my shoulders. The man outside would appreciate any of it more than I do, and here I sit because I’m too lazy to leave my couch.
I grab the bowl of fruit and an umbrella. Take the elevator downstairs.
I can see the man outside the lobby. He has stopped on the sidewalk and is picking at the buttons of his new coat.
I walk up to him, a little wary. It really is raining hard, and the man’s face streams with water.
“Excuse me,” I say. “I brought you an umbrella.”
The man looks at me, or through me, unfocused. “A what now?” Voice a croak.
“An umbrella. And some apples.”
The man is shaking his head, doglike again. The jacket barely comes down to his ribcage.
“You don’t want them?”
“No thanks,” says the man. “You might need them. I’ve got this nice jacket, see.”