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His hands wring together practically shouting that a man in his underwear should not be standing in front of the ice cream store at seven a.m. on a Wednesday morning.
The man in his underwear turns and gets the attention of Albert who is pacing, trying to avoid contact at all costs. At first Albert pretends to ignore the man, but his upbringing forces him to look the man in the eye. He's no racist and he's certainly not above speaking with any person at any station in life. His parents taught him that but for the grace of God, there goes Albert, and the young man fully understood the lesson. The noise from a beer truck obscures all hope of either man hearing the other. Albert keens his head to the side, cups his hand to first one ear, then the other. He looks like a monkey with big white hands cupped by his head and his loose jacket pouching out at the sides. The homeless man becomes increasingly animated as they mouth their words and pantomime until the tall, well dressed, white monkey understands that the man wishes for the boy to watch over his things while he goes and has a smoke in private. The universal symbol for smoking, where a man makes the "peace" symbol moving it sideways back and forth from his lips out into the air in front of him, is what the man does. He does this as he yells something at young Albert with an exaggerated smile and friendly arm gesture in salutation. After continued confusion an understanding of sorts is reached between the man in his boxers and the boy in his ill fitting suit.
"Sure," mouths Albert with great nods of his head and a smile broader than his long face should accommodate.
Albert stands guard over the threadbare clothing and rumpled, wet belongings of a man he's never met before who, moments before, stripped in front of him to his underwear on the street at seven o'clock in the morning. Albert's face is serious, making it appear even longer as he bites his lip a little. His nervous energy is now channeled into every fiber of his body as he tries to live up to the standard of excellence of every motion picture guard or G.I. Joe sentinel he's seen since birth. His back is rigid and he no longer sulks awkwardly. He doesn't pace or stumble. He rocks from side to side shifting his weight from right leg to left leg and back again, over and over. His feet are spread just a bit wider than his shoulders with his toes pointed outward. The arms that swung his fidgeting hands loosely by his side earlier now are bolted stiffly to his sides, his palms open and flatly welded to his upper thighs. He looks like a collegiate nutcracker doll about to fall over if he doesn't successfully pledge a fraternity, and soon.
Albert is so busy on guard duty that he doesn't notice the man in bright blue underwear whose garments he is so intently protecting. The bum and he is a bum—there is no doubt of that—has snuck off to a narrow alleyway. He has pulled a small glass pipe from his underwear and is crouched over it low against the wall of a jewelry store. The sun glints off the pipe as he sparks a lighter also magically produced from his underwear, and a deep orange glow shines briefly against his face. Albert's new boss is a junkie. He inhales and coughs from the depth he's drawn the smoke into his early morning lungs. A cottony cloud of fog wraps around his head obscuring it for a second before he draws on the pipe and an orange pinpoint flares again at his mouth. A second then third cloud appear from the man's thick, chapped lips before he slumps lifeless and still against the wall. A street clock ten feet away cycles through the chime for half past the hour waking him up for more smoking, more pleasure.