His Name Is Alfred

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He told me that he feels called to be a preacher.

That’s the first thing he said after I said hello.

I didn’t say much after that, just listened, squatting down beside him on the sidewalk outside of the 7/11.

He began listing all of the cities he had been to.

“San Diego. Rochester. New York . . .”

Peeling pieces of newspaper with gnarled hands to put inside his Bible.

“San Francisco. Philadelphia. Wichita. . . and some countries.”

We exchanged names. I looked into his gentle, watery eyes and said goodbye.

When I left, I slipped some money into one of his bags. Our conversation had been more than just a transactional exchange and it felt weird to hand it to him.

Shadowed faces in cars waiting for the stores to open watched me as I walked away.

I looked up at the traces of jet streams and a pale moon hanging like a broken planet in the blue sky.

Keep preaching, Alfred, I thought.

Keep preaching.

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