The first day I met Garth was in the metro station. He sat beside me, rose twice, paced, picked up a cigarette stub from the floor, and puffed away. He plopped back down a little too close and I scooted to the edge of the bench.
"I make you nervous?" He asked in a gruff voice. "Name's Garth."
I shook my head.
Not easy to pinpoint the age of this man. Gaps where teeth were missing in his mouth. Bleached hair, tanned skin, about a week's worth of dark beard.
He stared. I felt uneasy.
"Got any spare change?'
I fished in the bottom of my bag where coins jingled. I wanted to give him a bill or two but knew it was unwise to pull out my wallet at this point.
Numerous coins lay in my palm.
"Can't even buy a cup of coffee with this," he complained.
"You have wallet in there?"
I inched closer to the edge. He chuckled.
You're gonna fall off and then what?"
I shrugged, got my wallet out and gave him five dollars. He pushed the bill inside a dirty jean's pocket.
Stretching to see around him, I searched for my train.
"It's the weekend. Longer wait." He flicked the stub to the tracks. "Live around here?"
I shook my head.
"I'm stayin over there." He pointed to the inside of the tunnel.
A frown surely crossed my brows.
"Yep. Got out of the service, couldn't find a job, and that's my roof for now."
My curiosity piqued. "You live under the metro station?"
Someone sat on the other side of him.
He turned. "Got a dollar to spare?"
His price had increased.
"Doesn't the military take care of you?"
"Got PTSD. They see me. That's about all."
Everyone knew these days about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. And most everyone knew how the Vets were left out of the equation after they returned from the war they were fighting.
"Have you tried to find a job?" I was hesitant about delving into his private life.
"Nah. Don't much care to take orders from anyone anymore."
I spotted the lights of my train coming through the tunnel and stood.
"Nice meeting you, Lady." He stuck out a grimy hand. We fist bumped. "Maybe see you tomorrow? Same time?"
I checked my watch. "Sunday? Maybe." And I knew in that minute I'd be back to hear the rest of Garth's story.
Garth's story will continue the following Monday. The names in this meeting have been changed to protect the characters' identities.
Remember our Vets and volunteer to help the Homeless.
To learn more about C.K. Alber, take a look at the Romantic Suspense she writes at: