around the city

He sang. In alleyways, on street corners, on the bus: his throat was loose and his lungs were strong. His songs were free, but sometimes people tossed him nickels, dimes, dollar bills.

Fewer people walked the streets of the city in the winter, but the ones who passed him were often more generous. Generous enough that he could afford to buy a box of tea. The kind man at the convenience store near the shelter always let him fill his mug with hot water. A few dollars was all it took to keep his hands warm for weeks. He used each tea bag twice.

He roamed freely. There were few obligations in his life. Gone were the suits and ties. Gone were the nights of binge drinking and plentiful drugs. Gone were the curtain calls and meaningless gifts. Gone was the apartment, the cleaning lady who came twice a week, the high definition television and the surround sound system, the record collection and the walls of compact discs.

Now every day was a rehearsal and recital all at once. No one ever recognized him. His accounts were closed, most of the funds donated away and the rest held in a trust–in case he ever decided to go back. Back to that life. It had been ten years, and the desire rarely struck him even on the nights he tucked himself into urine-soaked doorways, under itchy, unwashed blankets.

Maybe it was because it would be so easy to go back that he didn’t want to.