Skinny fella in a charcoal P-coat sitting at a table in the window of the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf at 86th and Amsterdam.
He's got middling gray, shaggy hair, but it looks washed, and generic black restaurant sneakers, and a mustache, and a pile of Zabars receipts on the surface in front of him.
I make a call, struggling to hear over the corporate coffee music mix - Elvis Costello meets Taylor Swift, Serge Gainsbourg and Tina Turner, then a Carribbean sounding cover of the classic Rolling Stones track, "Angie" - and the fella turns his head, chin on his left shoulder, to leer at me.
Now, in front of him he has a coupon supplement from a newspaper. A supermarket rag with specials on lunch meats. I'd disturbed his reading, and now he turns back, shakes his head, turns the page to the tomatoes.
There was this bum on Bond Street that made his home on a thin pad of boxes next to a failed bank, out in the open - not tucked into a doorway but out toward the center of the sidewalk.
I'd seen him there last winter, bloated and fat and refusing a coffee from a stranger. He wore a black sweatshirt over layers, a large knit cap and bare feet. I tried to speak with him and he answered with a sort of rhythmic nonsense, and would crescendo to a shout, his eyes wild as if desperate to make me comprehend:
"Fa-fa fa-fa fa sha faaaa faaaa!"
I saw him in spring in the same spot, catty-corner from a new Chinese bistro, but now his hat dwarfed his cheeks. He'd shed his winter skin, gone forth and returned home half himself, like he'd gotten younger. And then, in spring, he added an extra phrase to his spewing:
"Fa-fa fa-fa fa sha faaaaa faaaa! Fa-fa sha-fa sha-sha fa!"
Every afternoon, and in the snow and rain, a dark-haired woman pushes an ancient German Shepherd in an oversized baby carriage down the north side of 78th Street and into Riverside park.
In the park, the tiny woman, who in the cold wears a parka that covers her face, lifts the Shepherd out of the carriage and sets her lightly on the ground, to pee or just to feel the grass.
After 15 minutes or so, the woman lifts the dog, gingerly moving her past the carriage's jogging tires and into the basket, letting her debilitated hind quarters rest. The dog props herself up with her front paws, her ears always back and tight to her head.
The woman pushes the carriage back up the hill on 78th Street, across West End just before sunset. The woman pushes the carriage again and again.