o I look like a crook to you?” The phrase was still ringing in my head. I couldn’t believe I had done it. The absurdity of it all struck me like a slap in the face. He was a man just past his prime, with a round, gentle face, and a hint of a beard. He was wearing blue jeans a size too big and an old yellow rain jacket. His unkempt brown hair made him look like he had just gotten out of bed. I was sitting on the train, and he came and sat next to me. He told me he had been “sitting next to a psychopath”; I remember the exact words. We started with small talk, and the next thing I knew he was telling me his life story. He told me everything about himself: “I have nothing but the clothes on my back and my bag.” I glanced down apprehensively at his lumpy, red duffel bag “My wife stole it all when she left.” He looked me in the eyes, but I pretended to be looking out the window. I felt sorry for this stranger, but was surprised with the ease that he told me everything. “I can’t pay my taxes, man. Don’t got the dough.” He asked me where I was going. It seemed odd to tell someone I had just met. “Umm I’m headed out to my parents’ house,” I muttered “Where d’they live?” he said without missing a beat. “Out in—well I guess it’s outside of—Marlbor-
ough, they live in Marlborough.” “Damn, they must be rich.” I started fiddling with the zipper on my backpack. “Well, they’re rather well off I guess, yeah.” “Say, could you lend an unlucky man some money. Please, I’m not asking for much, you can even write a check.” He quickly glanced down at his digital watch. It was getting out of hand. I was going to put an end to the conversation. “What do you mean lend? And why should I trust you anyways? I don’t even know your name.” I looked him straight in the eye this time. He looked down at his hands. “You’re right, you can’t trust nobody these days. Listen,” he said looking back at me, “I’ll give you my name and phone number if that makes you feel better, but you have my word, and I’m a man who keeps his promises.” “How do I know that?” I said decisively. The man shook his head slowly, closed his eyes for a second, then snapped them open and asked straight out: “Do I look like a crook to you?” I told the truth: “No.” I couldn’t go back; I gave in. As the doors closed behind him, the man turned and flashed a thumbs up. “Do I look like a crook to you?” The phrase was still ringing in my head. I couldn’t believe I had done it.
Steps Magazine's second Fall semester issue.