The first time I met them was in a dirt parking lot outside a convenience store. They were clearly homeless, and true they were begging for change, but I would definitely not call them a bum. I think “vagabond” or “wastrel” would be a more appropriate term. They asked if I has change for the bus, and I said no, sorry, I do not. I also asked them where they were going. They smiled and said ‘North’. I told them the road I was about to get on went pretty northerly, and I asked if they would like to come. A smile and a nod was the response I got, and next thing I knew, I was in my car with a total stranger. I ended up driving them all the way to my house. It was by far the most fun I’ve had in a car for a long time. It’s strange, we laughed so much on that ride, but I can never remember what about.
The second time I met them was at four in the morning on a saturday, a week or two later. They came to my door asking if they could stay for the night I couldn't stand to see them there in the rain so I let them in. I took a good look at them for the first time, but, it’s funny, I couldn’t tell you a single thing about them. Funny how these things go huh? They thanked me and said that they would be gone in the morning, and before I knew what I was saying I had asked them if they could stay longer. They smiled devilishly and for some reason I blushed. They went to bed on my couch and they were gone in the morning.
The third time I met them, I had been waiting ten days for it to happen, I kept thinking I heard them behind me, or saw them off in the distance. I didn’t know why, but I couldn’t get them out of my head. I kept replaying what I would say to them when I saw them, kept wondering if I sounded stupid. When I finally saw them, I wasn't sure if I was actually seeing them or if it was another mirage. I was almost giddy, and I’m sure they noticed, especially after the third time I laughed way too hard at something they said. What did they say? It wasn’t that funny right? Any way, after a little more embarrassing myself they told me I they were going north again, for quite a ways. I asked if I would ever see them again, they said it wasn't very likely. At first I believed them, I went home and told myself to forget about them. That lasted exactly fifteen minutes, then I was rushing out to find them again. I knew they were gone but I searched for hours anyway, eventually I realized where I had to go. I didn't even bother going back for my things, I just started walking.
The fourth time I met them was in a note in their jacket. They told me that, since they couldn't stop me, they could at least help me out. I smiled when I put it on, and I smiled wider when I saw how similar we looked when I wore it. I was so happy, they had noticed me! they knew where I was and they had left their jacket for me! Or, they had given it to someone, who gave it to me. How did I get a hold of that jacket? I just remember not caring at the time, I just cared that they had noticed me. They cared that I was following them, which meant I should keep going.
The fifth time I met them was in a mirror, in a dirty gas station bathroom. I hadn't seen them in five months, but there they were, just like always. I smiled, and so did they. They told me something, but who cares what? I saw them again, but I couldn't touch them. I realized then that was what I wanted to do, to hold them. I had to keep going if I wanted to do that. I waved goodbye, so did they, and I left at the same time as them. Outside the gas station, I realized I had no money for the bus, so I asked the only other person out there for some. They didn’t have any, but they offered me a ride. They asked where I was going, and I looked out over the road, and smiled. ‘North’ I said.