By Lana Highfill–
The rag-time music lilts down the cobblestone road and beckons to passers-by. The wafting scents of chicory and powdered sugar form a mystical and delectable cloud around the morning diners seated at the outdoor cafe. From my vantage point across the street, frenzied conversations meld into a cacophonous buzz.
In every direction, on every corner, street musicians can be seen with their open instrument cases, competing to catch the attention of the throngs of people rushing to make it to their offices and hoping to reap the benefits of their leftover change.
At the corner of the cafe sits a solitary patron at a table made for two. Even in the humidity of the New Orleans summer, he has donned a well-worn leather jacket over a gray tee with a faded image of Sid Viscious.
As he sips from the steaming white ceramic mug, a tiny gust of wind finds its way to the pages of the paperback book on his lap.
He has been jolted out of his reverie.
He stands, tucking his book under his arm, digs in his denim pocket, produces a handful of crumpled bills and tosses them on the table. He quietly exits through the black iron gate at the side of the cafe and heads towards the river from which the disruptive wind came.
He pauses for a moment and turns to peer over his shoulder and across the street behind him. His efforts to go unnoticed have gone in vain; I have watched him, and in this moment at the Cafe du Monde, admired the life of a stranger.