Ra: Miami Beach, August 2011

I reach out to shake his hand, and he grips my forearm as I grip his. I go to my car and find a dollar in the tray, which I give to Ra, though never did he ask for it. As I drive out I see him mounting his bicycle, ready to ride on now that I'm safe.
03/29/2013 07:57 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

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I pull into the CVS parking lot and see this striking Natty Dread stationed by the store entrance with his bicycle and bags. I think for sure I'm going to get hit up for money as I pass, but instead as our eyes meet he greets me: "Hey man, I haven't seen you in a while. Everything OK? It's good to see you again!"

"I've been gone for a while, but all is well. How about you?" I ask.

He responds affirmatively and then continues with a litany of life that assumes my knowledge of it. He sees my cane and we talk about our respective health situations. He tells me he just turned 71.

"No way!" I exclaim, and he proceeds to show me his ID, and sure enough, he was born in 1940. We talk some more then, after a few minutes, I excuse myself to go inside the store.

When I come out, he's still there, tending to an envelope and trying to find a stamp for it. He looks up, sees me and says: "I waited for you. They taught us that when someone goes in, you wait till they come out safe before you leave."

"Thank you." I say.

I reach out to shake his hand, and he grips my forearm as I grip his. I go to my car and find a dollar in the tray, which I give to Ra, though never did he ask for it. As I drive out I see him mounting his bicycle, ready to ride on now that I'm safe.

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