Four ghosts


Scrolling through photos today, I came upon this shot from a couple of years ago, and it occurred to me that I have not seen this woman in quite a time.

Funny how you don’t miss people who are not there.

She once was a fixture on the big plaza downtown, specifically just over there, across from me, where I sit many afternoons having an espresso and reading my Kindle.

I never knew her name. She would sit on the door stoop that’s visible to the right and sell medicinal herbs. I never purchased any because I don’t know what to do with medicinal herbs, plus I normally feel pretty swell anyway.

Her disappearance overwhelmingly means she has died. She was not young.

By dying she joins a group from the past, people I have looked at.

Three others come to mind.

There was the little old man with the newspaper-wrapped machete and raggedy sombrero. He toted a few belongings with him always, and I imagine he lived on the street. He was nuts and often grinned and spoke to no one in particular.

Once, as I was sitting at a sidewalk table, he paused in passing to converse with me for a few minutes. He made no sense, but I smiled and nodded affirmatively because you don’t want an unhinged old man with a machete to think unkindly of you.

I haven’t seen him in a few years. Surely, he is dead.

And then there was that other old woman. I did not like her. She paused and asked for money at every passing, which usually was daily. She would get snotty if you didn’t hand over change. I didn’t like her attitude, so I never gave her anything.

Before you think me a miserable tightwad, know that I hand over change quite readily. Just not to that woman. Because she was snotty. Snotty gets you nowhere with me.

She too has vanished. Gone to Hell, I’m guessing. I hope not.

Even the bad-tempered can be redeemed, they say.

Number 3 is the fellow in the wheelchair. For years he would roll his chair into the middle of the ring road, at a speed bump, and await charitable contributions from drivers. I often contributed because I liked his attitude. I liked him.

He too sported a wide raggedy sombrero — to block the raging sun.

He often would be reading a small booklet of a religious nature. He was in a wheelchair because he had no legs. I don’t think he had a family either, which is sad.

Family is everything to Mexicans.

Some nights I would see him propelling his wheels alone down a dark sidewalk toward, I assumed, a sleeping spot. He slept on the sidewalks atop cardboard.

He too has vanished. Perhaps he is not dead because he was not old, probably in his early 50s. I hope he is though. No family, no friends, no home, no legs, cardboard for a cot. It would have been a life of stunning bleakness.

I pray his religious pamphlet provided some moments of peace and hope — of a life with family, love, long sturdy legs, hot baths and warm tortillas.

* * * *

Four ghosts. Only one photographed.