(continued from The King of King’s Road (2))
One morning, like many others, the homeless man sat on the sidewalk near the fire house with his coffee can set in front of him next to a cardboard sign that said ” Please help me. I’m homeless. I don’t drink or smoke. I’m hungry.” He watched people pass without looking at him. Nearby, a young boy kicked a plastic ball as his mother walked and talked on her cell phone. She appeared to be having an animated conversation and paid no attention to the boy and his ball. The boy dribbled the ball and tried several times without success to flick it in the air and bounce it off his knee. After getting frustrated he kicked the ball hard as if taking a shot at a goal. The ball came straight to the homeless man who caught it and rolled it back to the boy.
The boy continued to kick and dribble and flick the ball while his mother continued to talk on the phone. The homeless man watched the boy who smiled and responded to his audience by attempting to kick harder and higher until he finally kicked the ball into the traffic travelling on King’s Road. The boy stared at the ball for a bit and then started to move toward it. His mother did not see what was happening. The homeless man did. He quickly stood up and moved toward the boy, grabbing him by the collar before the boy could step into the road. Then the mother noticed the sudden movement and rushed to snatch the boy away from the homeless man, screaming and yelling as she did so. The boy began to cry and ask for his ball. She continued to yell, first at the homeless man and then at the person on the other end of her phone call, as she took the boy without the ball and rushed away.
The homeless man, head down, walked away and returned to the spot where he had been sitting. He sat again with his sign and his coffee can. This time he took out his Rubik’s Cube and begin to twist and turn it, intently staring at it’s colorful tiles searching for a solution to its puzzle. He quickly solved it, scrambled it thoroughly and solved it again. And then again and again throughout the morning. Before long people began to stop for a few minutes and watch. Some dropped coins in his can as they left. To be continued…