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Mr. Greengrass

I didn't know his real name. I called him Mr. Greengrass because he seemed to be a dreamer, looking for greener grass somewhere, sometime.

Sometimes it was on the other side of the fence, or the gate or the wall somewhere he was denied entry.

Other times it was in a different town, another state, or even a faraway country somewhere but here where there was only day labor, soup kitchens and catch-as-catch-can shelter.

Sometimes it was another time when he would no longer be seen as subhuman.

Sometimes it was just in his head a place and a time stitched together from scraps of memory and embellished with the bright and glittering moments he found others had casually discarded.

"Hate" is too strong a word for what he felt about the here and now. Besides he didn't "hate" everything, only what had become too familiar. And it wasn't really hate.

He once said that just because he was never satisfied not hateful, he reminded me anywhere, with anything or anybody, including himself, this didn't mean he was negative. After all, he declared, he was constantly "looking outside the present here, imagining what's over there or what was once here or what will one day be here."

He insisted that his imagining and what he imagined were evidence of a profound optimism. "'What is, is bad' is negative," he said, "if that's where you leave things. But then," he added "it's not the same thing at all to believe 'what is, may be otherwise.'"

Story by:

Peter McMillan

13 September 2014