There was an old man who lived down the street from where I lived, there was something wrong with him, you could just tell that sort of thing.
He walked with a limp and spoke in gibberish and always had a hand out for money. He lived in the halfway house down the street and sat on the front porch of the place in the dead of winter humming to himself while his hands turned white then red then purple.
He never bothered anyone, never approached, never spoke any real words, he just sort of meandered up and down the street, his teeth full of holes and his white hair askew, he became a fixture of my mornings.
I started to say hello now and then, and he would nod politely before going back to his conversation with the plush chair that had been dumped on the grass in front of the halfway house and had yet to be taken away.
It was grey and brown and had urine stains on it from all of the dogs doing their business on its plush edges.
Eventually when I walked by I would just nod, and he would nod back, knowing that I respected that English was not spoken here, and physical words were best. Yesterday I didn’t see him, or the day before that.
I saw a few nurses going in with masks on their faces, looks of quiet pain on their faces. I didn’t ask them anything about the old man, what would I have said? I nod at this guy sometimes, is he ok? I kept my distance, looking at his empty chair on the porch, and I thought to myself, I didn’t even know his name, did anyone?
Dust to dust, we are here and then gone, and if he doesn’t come back, in a week that will be someone else’s chair, and they won’t understand the nod anyway.