Angel strolls down Southeast Hawthorne, raising his arms, making his baggy coat flare out like black wings. “Go out and buy things!” he yells to shoppers, who step a little livelier around his perimeter but are careful not to look at him. “Put them in your closet!” he urges. “Come back and buy more things!”


I’m sitting at a cafe table on the corner. Conor is at my feet, hoping for crumbs. I guess it’s because I’m laughing at what the angel said that he comes over and plops down at the next table.


“Hard work, eh?” I say encouragingly.

He grunts and searches his pockets. With a meditative air, he rolls a cigarette. Conor places his head on the angel’s knee and wags his whole backside. Looking out at the street, Angel smokes and pats Conor absently.


Next to the angel’s table, a woman at another table works away at her laptop. Angel stands and leans very close to her face: “Are you very busy?” he asks gently, as a father would ask a child who’s coloring.

 She smiles, unafraid, and says, “I have a long to-do list.”

 “Throw that out!” he says. “You should have a to-don’t list!” He steps away, spins, turns the corner and disappears.   

— Margaret Kellermann