the street lawyer (1) the rubber boots

The man with the rubber boots walked into the elevator behind me, but I didn't see him at first. I smelled him --the smell of smoke and cheap wine and life on the street without soap. We were alone while we moved up, and when I finally looked over at him I saw the boots, black and dirty and too large. He had a lot of clothing around his belly, so that he looked fat. But it wasn't from eating; in the winter the street people everything they own.

He was black and aging--his beard and hair were gray and hadn't been washed or cut in years. He looked straight through thick sunglasses, completely ignoring me. It me why I was staring at him.

He didn't in this place. It was not his building, not his elevator, not a place he could . The lawyers on all eight floors worked for my firm and they were paid so incredibly well that I couldn't believe it sometimes. He was just a street bum trying to warm himself up. It happened all the time in downtown Washington. But we had security guards to with such people.

We stopped, and I noticed for the first time that he had not pushed a button, had not chosen a floor. He was following me. I walked out quickly, and as I stepped out I looked over my shoulder just long to see him standing in the elevator, looking at nothing, still me.