11,041 vagabonds plus:
Musician in the Rain
by Robert Doisneau
He only came in from the rain to look for a phone, dragging his cello an inch off the wet pavement. The windows were boarded snugly in rotted splinters with the words 'The Mission' stenciled on caked-up gray glass above the front door. His coat had been stolen at the corner when he bent to tie his right shoe. He had looked all around him as he stood frozen by grief in one place. 'Gone,' he whispered, and it began to rain harder.
The woman with wimple and veil welcomed the soaked cellist with profuse warmth, but all he needed was to get to a phone.
'May I use your phone to call a constable?'
'Come in. Sit and have some hot vegetable soup, Dear'.
Before he could repeat the question fully he found himself seated, the clothed cello leaning against a white-washed wall, seen as an object somewhere between admiration and suspicion by his downtrodden lunch companions, and a stained steel bowl of hot vegetable soup placed before him along with a hard biscuit. Weeks later, during a seven course meal celebrating the end of tour, he would recall how hot the soup from the mission was, the floating fresh green beans, soft potatoes and green peppers, tasty rich broth salted lightly, and his face would flush in warmth. And how the phone call was never made, heavy coat with wallet thick in cash and credit cards forever vanished, and how there was a used overcoat his size on a slouching coat-hanger given him by the unsuspecting nun.
He stopped at the door and turned to her, head bent weighted with shame, looking at his shoes. Thunder rose and fell in the distance.
'I am well-off, Sister', he said, one flat octave above a whisper. He just about told her his salary as he raised his eyes to hers.
'You'll need this too', she replied in a kind obliviousness, touching his arm, presenting him with an umbrella, handle chewed by a faithful cocker spaniel. Back towards the direction of the kitchen someone called her name. When he looked at her he noticed she was calm, and he wondered how it was possible from all the weight.
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