They had won! The team of five celebrated with a hearty cheer amidst the noisy bar. Tables, chairs, and leftover beer marked the victory of the several teams now pumping their fists in victory. It had been a simple challenge, answer the trivia questions, and the party had done well enough to come in second place.

As a victor, they each had claimed a small prize from the table by the hosts. Hats, cups, bandanas, and t-shirts were available and each person had taken one. The troupe cheerfully funneled out from the bar to the street with their loot. Short and pleasant goodbyes exchanged, hugs between good friends, firm handshakes amongst the newly-mets. The night might be young, but many departing members were not. Their heads filled with warm thoughts of their beds.

A younger man departed from the group waving his won t-shirt goodbye. His steps echoing off the concrete sidewalk as he hurried home. A bearded and ragged looking man peered up at him from his stoop on the corner as he passed.

"Any spare change brother?"

The usual response ushered itself from the rushing man, his steps briefly slowing from the pace he had set to pass the homeless quickly. No change, didn't carry cash. A truthful and dispassionate line. As the distance between the two increased, the victor glanced at the plush weight in his hand.

He stopped.

The tag read XL, a size the slender man would only wear as a pajama. A large brand name for a local beer splashed across the chest area, yet another reason the man would probably not wear it in public. His trophy of the night, a small bundle, meant little to him. He glanced over his shoulder. Tattered pant bottoms grazed the dirty ground; their faded blue a testament of wear, tear, and years of poverty. The shirt the homeless man jammed his fingers into, huddling over for warmth, was thin as well. Eyes full of longing for a friendly glance, a small token of care, he didn't pause to reach out with his voice to each passerby. Every denial an understanding nod, every grace a shameful but grateful nod and heartfelt thanks.

Turning on his heel, the team member walked back and gave the shirt away.

comments powered by Disqus