here he sits, I watch him sway his crippled coffee cup, back-and-forth in hope of a new customer today. On the corner he sits patiently, curled up in a small oval ball, he laughs at the midnight streaked sky. He is a disgrace to himself and the world around him. To everyone, he is nothing but a useless germ, a substance they would classify a disease; but little do they know, he is not who he once was. Too many people in this world are too quick to judge from image and appearance. How can they determine who he is, or who he was? His clothes reflect struggle, but his eyes reflect heartache.
My name is Caroline Demers and I am what you would call a very visually-structured person. I live from observing others; I am a photographer. I've been working the streets and observing people for more than three years. My day job consists of writing for a highly prestigious newspaper in New York City, but my main interest lies in what happens in the city at nightfall.
I've had the privilege to photograph J. Brown in the past -I mean - the man sitting on the curb whom I previously spoke about. I've never been lucky enough to find out his real name. They all have street names down here. It's almost like once you end up on a street corner in the Bronx you lose all your former identity. The hustler, the street worker, and the prostitute: everyone believes that's all they are; but, they all have a story, a beginning to their tale, and a life they all have come to live.
The people here know I'm not out to cause them harm, but they don't understand the meaning behind why I fancy them so. It gives me another perspective on life; the comparison of how I live, and the fight they have to put up, just to merely exist.
As a girl of thirty-two, I'm no spring chicken. My birthing days are almost through, and I'm still single. I don't much care anymore. I honestly don't. I tried the dating thing, the blind date, the "Oh he is the perfect one for you, by the matchmaker," but nothing is ever perfect about it. But heck, it doesn't matter. All I'm concerned with anymore is waking up on time to go to work and helping the people I know on the street. It's just like hanging out with friends on a Friday night, except you don't dare bring anyone back with you for a coffee.
It's a cruel, cold world, and the day my father left us, he looked into my eyes and told me to remember just that. He said he would be back in a couple of hours, but I knew differently. I was eight at the time and my little sister was four years younger. My papa gave me a kiss on the cheek -you know, those big old sloppy ones? And then he handed me a big black box (which I would later learn was called a camera). I knew then something was up. Papa never had the extra money to buy me or my sister presents. My mother stood in the doorway crying hours after my father pulled out of the driveway. Some things are meant to be...others just aren't.
My mother never told us then why our father up and left. Maybe that's why I'm here. I'm looking for answers, and because I never was able to find them rooted in my own life, I had to go elsewhere to try to learn the secrets of others. It's sad to some extent. I've lived my whole life with unanswered questions, and I will never be given the opportunity to know the truth.
Standing with her black box dangling from her chest, she looked for the nearest clearing to sit down. Walking toward J. Brown she sat on the curb next to him. She turned to glare a soft smile of affection toward his jagged, roughed-up face. Running her hands through her short brunette hair, she's blinded by a reflecting set of headlights coming from a 2002 Monte Carlo. "Are you Caroline Demers?" a young man asked, flipping open a police badge. "If not, do you know her around these parts? I was specifically told I could find her down here." Eager for a response, she instantly commented. "Yes...I am who you are looking for. What's this all about officer?"
"Please hop in" he said, getting out of the passenger side of the vehicle to open the left rear door. "It has to do with your father...I think you should have the right to know."
© 2003 The Richmond Hill Public Library Board