As I walked through the cold, lonely street, I decided to take a shortcut home. Making a sharp right, I was headed down an alleyway, which was dark and sinister. Mist was slowly rising upward from the ground, which appeared yellowish from the reflection of one flickering light, almost at the point of burning out. The only sounds of the night came from my own feet dragging over the many pebbles and stones on the cement and from a stray cat who lingered near a dumpster looking for scraps of food. The breeze was very bitter and piercing upon my body, feeling like a thousand needles hitting my flesh.
From somewhere in the distance I sensed movement. As I inched closer, anxiety and fear grew. The first thing I noticed about him was his clothing. The old blue and green t-shirt this old man was wearing seemed so thin that he might as well have not been wearing a shirt at all. His pants, dirty, frayed, brown slacks, were much too short, exposing part of his frost-bitten legs. Plastic bags, tied at the top around the ankles, were used as shoes. The only thing keeping his face warm was a long, thick, black and white beard that looked like it had been growing wildly for years. The little bit of gray hair he had on his head blew with the wind, causing strands to be going in every direction.
Judging by this, and his wrinkled, rubbery looking skin, it looked as if he was in his 7O’s, though looks can be deceiving.
He sat on a dirty cardboard box on the ground, hugging his knees close to his chest to protect himself from the cold. His eyes were black and hollow, and his gaze never left the pile of empty soda cans, which lay two feet in front of him. His only movement was his constant and continuous shivering. A bent piece of cardboard reading “I will work for food” was leaned up against the dark brown bricks of the wall he was sitting against. Unfazed by a rat that ju st ran over his foot, it was almost as if he was a vegetable, oblivious and ignorant to everything that was happening around him.
I was frightened by him. I have never witnessed somebody sit so still through such conditions. Almost as if he was frozen in time, I was afraid he wasn’t even breathing anymore. The whole situation reminded me of a horror movie, something bad and unexpected was sure to happen. All that was missing was the scary music in the background that signified an upcoming death.
Splattered above his head was a discolored liquid, almost in the shape of a heart. It was blood, but I had no idea who it belonged to. Was it from the old man or did he do this to somebody else? Upon seeing the patch of blood over his head, I began to feel dizzy. I started to wonder if I was next, if I was going to be his next victim, if it was going to be my warm, red blood dripping down these walls. Panic began to set in. So many thoughts were going through my mind at that point. I had so many options; turn around and run, try to talk to him or just keep walking and act like I didn’t see him. The way he wasn’t sitting there motionless, I don’t even think he would have noticed me one way or the other.