According to the mission brief, Team Leader Alera would be waiting at the corner of 3rd and Broadway, but first Lesha had to make herself presentable. She had to look human.
Lesha knew exactly what she wanted to look like: red-haired with olive-toned skin, tall but not too tall. She would wear standard attire for this place and time: jeans and a plain white t-shirt with red shoes. There. Perfect. Because of local health concerns, she added a red cloth mask to the ensemble.
She really hoped this plague wouldn’t be as bad as she had read about plagues in the past. If so, she would have to walk carefully to avoid giving people the wrong idea about her mission.
Rounding a corner, two streets away from Broadway, Lesha instinctively stops.
A stranger with a guitar sits in a narrow street on a plastic bucket, begging for money.
No one told her how it would feel to watch a beggar play and sing with such heartfelt skill. His song reminds her of heaven, of the angelic choirs as they pour out their hearts in adoration of the divine one. How could he? How could a human make such music?
Lesha should rush to report in, but she pauses when the human stops playing. Other humans give him money, prompted by his heavenly display.
Meanwhile, dark brown eyes above a sheer black mask watch her watching him. She has no money to give, but she has to do – or say – something. She has to.
“Are you a beggar?” she asks.
“Excuse me?” Dark eyes sparkle with emotion, maybe humor?
“I am new here and trying to learn your language.”
“Oh,” he says. He points to a badge on his chest. “Look for these on people and be careful, okay?”
“Thank you.” She turns to go. She’ll have to ask her team leader about the badge.
“Hey, wait a minute. Are you here alone?”
“No. I’m going to meet my team lea- a friend.”
“Okay…. Hey, if you ever need help, my name is Paul. People around here know me, and I know a few things about a few things.”
“Thank you, Paul. I will keep that in mind.”
Author’s note: I know that street performers probably won’t be allowed for a while. But that’s what makes this a bit fantasy. In all seriousness, New Yorkers (and other big city people around the world) can be cold, but a surprising number of people will be “that person” who doesn’t want to see anything bad happen to a stranger. You never know when you look at someone if they’re going to be the Good Samaritan or the robber or one of the vast majority of people who glance and keep walking. You just never know. ❤