William sat in the sun every day. Northern California could be brutally warm in June and July. Will sat in the city center, across from the post office and a hundred meters from the railway where he had stopped many times during his career.
He hadn’t had a job for seven years.
Hadn’t had a home for four.
Will wore a full three-piece-suit, the only clothing he still owned. No matter how hot it got, he never took the jacket off.
His chair was a brick structure surrounding a young tree. All day, he watched the city residents go in and out of the post office. He sat straight, his sun-worn face punctuated by a dignified nose and calm green eyes.
Will was one of the estimated 3,000 residents of the city who didn’t have an address to give when applying for a library card. He wasn’t a big reader anyways. The library was too busy—filled with those recently out of prison and Jehovah’s Witnesses who were too scared to go door-to-door.
His perch outside the post office featured less foot traffic—more addicts, less felons. More harmless townspeople who still used snail mail to pay their bills.
Will didn’t have bills in the traditional sense.
He broke down his expenses by the day instead of the month now. His biggest expense was his half a pack of swishers a day habit. Two dollars and twenty cents.
Water, electricity, and internet always felt like a racket anyways. Utilities were a surcharge for keeping your heart beating.
All day, he watched faces.
He saw shame etched in the wrinkles of foreheads that rested under roofs and those that did not.
Some people showed their discomfort as they tried to ignore and assuage. Others were uncomfortable. Looking for their next fix. Or their next shower.
Will’s face carried no shame.
All debts had been forgiven and he had forgiven all debts.
One of the snail mail romantics walked out the front doors of the post office and over to Will, asking him for a smoke. Will handed him a cheap, thin cigarillo and provided a light.
“What do you do for a living?” the recipient asked, attempting small talk.
“I’m retired now, but I used to be a train conductor. Spent decades on these rails.” Will nodded to his left.
“You come down here to watch the trains?”
“Most days. Sometimes, it gets a little warm but I enjoy it…I do enjoy it.”
Will lit his own Swisher. His new conversation partner shifted his weight from one foot to the other. He looked like he wanted to say something more. Then, he thanked Will for the smoke and walked away.