“I’m not here. I’m not here. You don’t see me.” The hurried words came out of the man’s mouth as a whisper but it felt like a scream.
I did see him. I had been watching him a few feet from me as he rummaged through the large trash bins in Madison Square Park. He appeared gleeful as he picked up a bottle and dropped the discarded contents of a soft drink in his mouth. He threw the bottle back and kept digging. He unearthed some kind of food. He chewed frantically.
“That man is eating from the trash,” I say. His body was thin and sinewy. There was a large purple scab right in the middle of his back. His hair and beard was a rich chocolate brown. He was clearly going through something but his hair looked Head and Shoulders commercial amazing. I felt shallow to even notice that but it’s true.
He bounded to the trash can closest to the bench where I sat.
“You don’t see me. I’m not here.”
He continued his search there but I knew it would be fruitless. A park employee had just removed a large garbage bag just moments before I sat down. It was the reason why I’d chosen that bench in the first place. He quickly walked away.
“Did you hear him?” I asked my partner.