(continued from The King of King’s Road (6))
The firemen at the Chelsea Fire Station continued to bring their curious neighbor coffee and a muffin each morning. Most days, it was the only meal the homeless man ate. Whenever he collected enough coins in his tin coffee can, he made his way to the betting shop and lost the money, each time playing a well-thought out, but complex, bet at long odds. The bets were not random and hopeless. He knew horse racing, football and other sports very well and would analyze the form of the participants thoroughly. But each bet required a combination of things to go right in order for him to win. And if he won, the payoff would be bigger than for a simple bet to win or lose.
Despite their efforts to look after the homeless man, the firemen made little progress in engaging him in conversation. A simple thank you or nod was all they received in return for their generosity. Then one day, one of the firemen invited the homeless man into the fire station for a tour of the equipment. The homeless man smiled and followed the fireman into the station house. He listened intently as the fireman showed him the trucks and pointed out the various hoses and tools of their trade. He looked closely at the pristine shining engine and inspected the immaculate uniforms that hung on pegs nearby. Everything was spotless, and most of the other firemen engaged in routine chores of one kind or another, washing, polishing, sweeping, and inspecting their equipment.
After the tour was over, the homeless man picked up an unused broom and began to sweep the apparently clean floor. He said nothing, but continued to meticulously focus on his task until he had made several small piles of dust which he picked up and disposed of. He then returned the broom to its proper place and returned to his spot on The King’s Road next to the fire station where he sat with his sign and played with his Rubik’s Cube. Thereafter, each day after having his morning coffee and muffin, the homeless man went into the station house, picked up the broom and swept the floor without saying a word.