December 2nd, 2016


“I’ve always depended on the kindness of strangers.” — Blanch DuBois

I got to Philadelphia that afternoon, asked where the YMCA was, and was asked, “Which YMCA?” Threw me for a loop, that. So I asked to be directed to the nearest Y,  one within walking distance.  But there was no record, no sign of Behrent there, at that Y.  I took a cab to another Y, checked in, and the place turned out to be really creepy; I left the next morning, thankful to have escaped,

I found the bus station again, and checked my bag in a locker — you could do that then — then went back onto the streets, looking for the future.  I had no idea if I would ever see Behrent again — as it turned out, he reappeared one day a year later, with no excuse or sufficient explanation for his absence, and disappeared after that — but it was a bright, sunshine day,and the streets of Philadelphia seemed welcoming.  I wandered through streets filled with historic buildings though I didn’t know them, and a lively business district, then an upscale shopping area and, toward evening, a park.  I had just been following my intuition which, it seems, had led me to Rittenhouse Square, which was (I discovered) a gay cruising area.

I found a bench in the sunlight, sat down, and waited for whatever would occur.

What occurred was a young man, who introduced himself with some name, let’s call him Jason.   He was a pleasant guy, dressed in business clothes, obviously had just come from work, and was looking for some relaxation: I was it.

Jason asked me about myself, told me about himself (he worked nearby, in a bank), and invited me to dinner.  Since I hadn’t had anything to eat all day, that seemed like a good idea.

A nice dinner; somewhat upscale, as I recall.  Or at least, upscale from pizza slices and 15-cent hamburgers.  I told him my whole story:  trying to hitch-hike from chicago, losing track of my lover, being absolutely broke.  He asked me if I had a place to stay.

Jason’s house was what you would think  Benjamin Franklin might have lived in: a row house with the door giving directly onto the narrow sidewalk, it might well have been built in the 18th century; it was certainly in a gentrifying neighborhood we could walk to.

When I woke up in the morning, Jason had left, the house was empty.  I went downstairs from the bedroom, and on the  mantle was a note.

“Had to leave for work. Toast in the kitchen.  Lock the door as you leave.”

There was also some currency on the mantle.  I was very thankful.

I have always depended upon the kindness of strangers.

Comments are closed.