’Daniel my brother you are older then me… Do you still feel the pain of the scars that won’t heal?.....Oh and I can see Daniel waving good-bye…..’ Elton John, 1972
I am squatting cross legged on the warm cement; my sun drenched shoulders are leaning against the shop window. Pandemic the Magic Nautical Bicycle is patiently perched up against a phone booth waiting to make our phone call to a man who is looking for crew for his 55 ft yacht sailing to Indonesia in a few weeks. My eyes squint into the tropical sun. A gentle bear of a man dressed in just spent the night in the park oversized earth beaten clothes, Italian leather bare feet, 3 days drunk and stumbling with a one foot goes in front of the other concentration, approaches.
The man reaches the spot in which I am sitting, spills down the wall and lands hands first in my lap, his two huge hands cup my circular thigh. He is using my leg as a crash pad like a helicopter short on fuel in the midst of an emergency landing. I quickly scoot over to a more appropriate distance and stick out my hand and chuckle a big hello, how y’a doing? I can immediate tell that this man has been sleeping on the streets for some time and is no toddler to high noon drunkenness. But even with all the sad despair in which his stumbles there is something about him that I trust and like. I introduce myself, my hand at a full arms reach and he does the same. My tiny hand immediately disappears in the shake of his giant strong paw. His name is hard to understand because of the distracting stench of stale booze and slurring babbling effect that strong liquor has on folks, turns out, after a few tries that his name is Daniel. He is aboriginal, from the area and says he doesn’t really hope or dream for anything although he does hope for a good life. Says he drinks because he would be too bored if he didn’t. As he looks me straight in the eye I can see that he only has one good eye. The white glow of a cataract clouds his left eye from seeing the beauty in this world.
As the Saturday tourist shopping crowd filters by they quickly divert their eyes from Daniel. I can’t really blame them. If anyone locks eye with Daniel he shouts out, hey baby come over and say hello, and then his loud jovial laugh bombs through the serene weekend shopping area like fireworks burning at the fuse. I joked with Daniel that he wasn't having any luck with the ladies. He just slouches over, his eyes focusing on opposite eyebrows from the weight of this life’s hardships.
I stood up and said I need to make a call and head towards Pandemic the Magic Nautical Bicycle to check the time and use the phone booth. Daniel says he will wait for me but I know he won't remember and will be on his way in search of a cup of something. I saw Daniel the next day but as often happens with folks who are trading life for liquor he doesn't remember me and sunders by.