By Sean Gunning
I was on Spring, stopped at the left turn light onto Bellflower, when I saw four suitcases neatly stacked on a dolly, all strapped with a canary-yellow belt. New suitcases, not battered or worn; on the sidewalk, in the early darkness of late afternoon. And behind them, partially hidden, a man: sitting on the curving concrete lip of the fading Worthington Ford car dealership smile.
I thought of ribbons around jacarandas in 2003—trunks standing in for men until they returned home from war—and how the man might have moved out of his family home just today,
just this afternoon, and how he was dressed like any other man in the neighborhood; how he could have been any man from any family in Long Beach taking a stroll after work, if not for the four suitcases on a dolly, instead of a dog on a leash.
His head was lowered, one side of his mouth resting in a palm. And in the late light of early evening I couldn’t make out if he was on a cell phone call or staring at the sidewalk searching himself for answers. Then the light turned green and I slinked away in my Jag, thinking the threads that bind us are tearing at the seams. Knowing we never know what’s just around the corner.