"I'M SICK OF IT!"
He was screaming.
"I ... CAN'T ... TAKE IT ANYMORE!"
He was homeless, young-er, in his twenties. He was sobbing.
He was sat on the corner of Pearson and Michigan Avenue, steps away from The Magnificent Mile, an expensive shopping district in Chicago. He was leaned up against a Topshop, his rags juxtaposed against the high-fashion window display above him.
He wasn't well. His hands were peppered with ulcers and fresh sores. His legs were bandaged; the red was seeping through, dotting the otherwise white cloth.
He was holding a cardboard sign:
I'M EVAN. PLEASE HELP!
"Hi, Evan," I said.
He looked up. His eyes were kind but his face was mangled, covered in cuts and scabs. There was an abscess on his neck.
"Hi," he said, wiping his cheeks.
I gave him money and the tears stopped.
"I'm sorry about all this," I said.
"Thanks," he said. "But I deserve it."
"I don't think so."
"I do." He adjusted the bandage on his leg. "Things could've been different."
"What do you mean?"
"I was a musician," he said. "I played in a marching band."
"What did you play?"
"Percussion," he said. "Snare drum."
"What happened?" It just came out. I guess I didn't know what to say.
He looked at me, bad. "Fuck you care, man?"
I backed up. "Sorry," I said, and turned around.
"I quit," he called out.
But I was already up the block.