But, now it is Spring and the King has returned.
Recently, the King made a rare afternoon appearance. I spotted him on my way home from work and saw it as an opportunity to meet the King.
|His throne is the top of the stairs leading to a townhouse much like this one.|
I was nervous. He is a imposing figure. There seems to be a permanent scowl on his face. And, although I have passed by him many times, and, even though I have begun to nod my head toward him every time I pass, still I have never seen the expression on his face change. It is always the same.
I made a U-turn and pulled up in front of his house. For a moment I wondered to myself, "What the hell are you doing," but I ignored that voice, chalking it up to excessive caution. My deep sense told me I was in no real danger.
I parked the bike and dismounted. I took off my helmet before I began to walk toward him. As I approached he watched me. There was no change in his expression, but his eyes were alive with what seemed to me to be curiosity. Neither of us spoke until I got to the base of the stairs.
I broke the silence. I explained how he might have noticed me nodding to him as I rode by him in the morning. He didn't speak. Next, I began my normal spiel about how commuting to work on my bike had made me more aware of the people and places I pass everyday. I was somewhere in the middle of what was becoming for me a very uncomfortable monolog when finally the King spoke. "Is that your bike?" I said it was. Then he said, "I like your bike." I thanked him. Then he said, "You know there is a church down the street. They are really nice people. They have a store there and maybe you could find something nice for your bike there." And, even though his expression never changed there was excitement in his voice.
Suddenly, insight dawned. I realized I was talking to child in a man's body. I changed how I was talking to him and from then on we had a very nice chat. I gave him my name and he gave me his. I learned he had lived in the neighborhood for only three years. Also, I learned when I see him in the morning he is waiting for his ride to pick him up and take him to one of the area hospitals. He didn't tell me if he went there to work or if he was a patient and I didn't ask. Our conversation didn't last long and his expression never changed. I came to wonder if he was even capable of smiling.
I didn't ask if I could take his picture. I'm confident he would have said, "Yes," but, it just didn't seem the right thing to do. Just like taking a picture of a similar building's entry way rather than his seemed to be a very right thing to do.
After my encounter with the King, the weather turned cold again. It was a few days before I rode by him seated on his throne. When I did, I didn't just nod my head but I waved to him. When he noticed me, he stood up and waved back. He waved to me in the way a child waves, not just with his arm but with his whole body. And, the expression on his face never changed, but mine did.