I heard him before I saw him, the man ranting in the wheelchair. At first sight, he looked old. Knotty white hair dirtied by gray surrounded his ruddy face and covered his chin, as if he were a ragged version of the Green Man already worn out by the first day of spring. He guarded one side of the Chinese joint at Colfax and Penn, and I couldn’t make out his words, the enemy he railed against—only his frustration. Gray pants hung slack below his right knee: the lower part of that leg was gone. A veteran. Perhaps a diabetic. Perhaps a worker injured on the job.
I was late for my haircut in the shinier part of Uptown. I didn’t linger on Capitol Hill, did not approach him, but I remembered that on
This same corner, a year ago a stranger asked me to have a beer.