I’m joining the Gypsy Mama in her five-minute Friday writing this week. The idea is, you take the prompt, you write for five, you stop. This week’s prompt was about people watching and, having now seen this man several times, I couldn’t resist:
I heard his voice before I saw him. “Jesus…” a word that got my attention, booming out over the scurrying shoppers. I knew he was African before my eyes spotted him, standing under the cover of an empty doorway like a priest in an old-fashioned pulpit. But Africa is a big place. Which part of it gave him that accent, his word “believe” sounding like “be-live”? He implores us “Be! Live in me, and have eternal life!”
He’s a tall husky man with glistening black skin, dressed in blue jeans and a worn jean jacket in the same light dusty blue. One enormous hand covers the open book in its palm–a Bible cover made of flesh and blood. It’s cold today in Oxford and a cloud of steam rises as he loudly invites people to come to Jesus. His feet in startlingly white tennis shoes sometimes move in place on the brick doorstep, his close-cropped black head tilts back as he sends his voice booming out over the heads of students, sightseers, mothers, and clerks. They’re meeting friends, crossing town, searching out toddler shoes or cash machines or potatoes or elevenses. They look down, look ahead, look in their purses. They glance at him and then away. He’s presenting them with an awkward social situation. This isn’t done. His big brown eyes study face after face as they pass before him, searching for someone who is listening. Who is listening?
It’s a giant outdoor market and his the only voice I hear that isn’t selling something.