Waiting for a Bus
He caught my eye as he came around the corner of the bridge onto the Quai. I never know which bridge is which in Paris . . . there are so many. He had a single crutch, the kind with a piece that encircles your upper arm for support. He was limping. There was no bus in sight as I stood there so I watched him from behind my sunglasses. He never noticed me, being too involved in his own thoughts. He would stop his slow walk and awkwardly turn his head, not to look at anything, just to be still for a moment. I thought perhaps his leg hurt too much to continue walking.
As he came to where I was waiting for the bus a young couple emerged from being down on the river – the Seine. They looked a bit lost; it can happen when you come up like that. The younger man asked the older man for directions. He seemed startled at first, but then eagerly shared which way to go. The young woman wouldn’t look directly at him, and kept trying to move away, but the young man who had thought to ask was not so rude, or fearful. He patiently listened to the older man and, from what I could see from across the street, appeared to thank him and then turned back to his girlfriend.
The traffic obscured my view for a few moments and when I looked again the older man was continuing on his way the couple having started in the opposite direction towards Notre Dame. As I watched I couldn’t help thinking that this man, this seeming cast-off seemed somehow more alive, more aware of his surroundings . . . happier. He was talking to himself and I hoped he was saying, “Voila, you are still good for something mon ami . . .”