Photo taken in Los Angeles, August 2012
Each morning he picked his way through daylight and side streets to the city library. Entering through glass doors, he reverently removed his weather-worn hat, holding it between ten sure fingers and nodding a hello to the somber woman at the desk. Shuffling forward, his eyes brushed a wonderous gaze over the countless shelves of worlds trapped within paper and ink, seventy-eight cents tinkling out a greeting from his left pants pocket.
A gap appeared between neck and collar as he craned forward as if to win an imaginary race. Wrinkles 80 years in the making drew wandering streams through his skin, standing in unabashed contrast to his freshly pressed shirt. Turning down the third row to his right, he scanned the book bindings with deliberate ticks of his ever-sagging eyes.
It would be Hemingway today.
Popping off the shelf, the book's blue canvas cover resembled its holder: frayed and sprinkled with aged dust. The man tucked his new companion warmly between arm and rib cage, quickening his pace in anticipation of the story to come.
Around the cases and along the side wall, down he strode to the lone chair hidden away in the corner. As his bent frame sunk into the maroon cushions, chair became man and man became chair. A whispered sigh — not quite human, not quite chair — slipped out. Away it sailed, down the aisles, past the somber woman at the desk, through glass doors and out into daylight and city streets.