Sunday, February 21, 2010


This is Eckel*, who approached me while I was shooting in an open alley.

He was very shy, very deferential - keeping a distance of about 10' between us - but wondered if I could help him with some money for a coffee.

And he kept apologizing.

It had rained and he was soaked, emphasizing his plight, but I don't usually carry cash, which I told him.

I pulled out my empty wallet to demonstrate, and...

There were two $20's inside.


"I can't give you those. How 'bout I bring you change after coffee?"

Could he come with me, he asked?

"Sure," I said, and almost immediately regretted it.

Then I thought a moment, and asked if I could take his picture, an inferred quid pro quo.

He said yes, but could he salute in the picture and then say a prayer?

We snapped the pic.
He spoke.

It was more like a rambling poem than a prayer - some of it beautiful, some of it nonsense - and he talked about The Mother and The Father, and how we were them, or they were in us - and he started to tear up.

After he was done I gave him one of the twenties.
It didn't mean much to me, really, and I was hoping to slip away, conscience appeased.

He thanked me, shook my hands profusely, and then suddenly, with a look of intense need, asked for a hug.

"Sorry," I said, "maybe if you weren't so wet."

Then I ambled off, hoping to distract myself with a visual segue.

30 Minutes later I walked into Starbucks and... there he was, getting coffee.

I slipped off to the bathroom, hoping to avoiding detection and wash my hands.

He saw me, though, when I came out, thanked me, and shook my hand again.


I squeezed his shoulder and walked out.
"I love you, Adam," he said as I walked out the door.

"Eckel loves you."
Which may be the nicest thing I've heard anyone say to me in a while.
*I'm not sure if that's spelled correctly, could've even been "Echo", but I'm pretty sure that's right.


  1. Anonymous7:47 PM

    Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by doing so some have entertained angels unaware. :)

  2. Point taken, my anonymous brother.

  3. Anonymous10:50 AM

    Or,sometimes an unappealing bad smelling individual who is not angelic can use a cup of coffee.

  4. Actually, he smelled fine, was just a tad bit dampish.

    And I was surprised to find he actually used the money for coffee.

    Finally, there was a moment when he said, that Jesus was with us and did I believe him?

    He looked me in the eye for the first time... an intense desire to be heard and believed and I thought what the f*ck do I know, really?

    "Sure," I told him, "I believe you."

  5. Anonymous6:20 PM

    Dear Mr. Adam B.
    I enjoyed your encounter with Eckel/Echo story.
    Uncle George

  6. Uncle George! News sure travels fast in these here parts. Nice to hear from you...