Brick and slate and blue colored skyscrapers wall the streets and look down on pedestrians. Only a few people stroll around downtown Salt Lake; a man with a briefcase power-walks past a street light, ten or so construction workers laugh while they march back to a dusty construction site. Myself? I walk only to kill time before an interview. My suit coat keeps me at a comfortable temperature, its warmth balancing with the cool breeze. Cheap black sunglasses shadow the world. I smile as I pass the gravel-cement of a street lamp. Looking ahead, I notice the man’s blond beard, olive snow jacket, and greasy jeans before he even approached me.
“Hey man, you got about a dollar? Just a buck.” He looks me right in the eyes. I look into his face—young, no more than 28; a smudge of black grease on his cheek; a broad, sincere smile. Staring at him through my cheap sunglasses, my brow sinks.
I think of the ten dollar bill sitting in my wallet. Looking him in the face, my smile drops, but doesn’t disappear. “I’m sorry bud, I just gave all my change to someone else up the street. I’m out of cash—I’d totally give you a buck if I still had one.”
“Okay, thanks buddy.” He grins and holds out his fist. I tap my own fist against his and point at him with an index finger.
“Take care of yourself, guy.” I turn away from him and continue down the street. I veer into the first alley I see and find myself in a cement park squared by office buildings. Passing concrete stairways and stone planters, I think again about the ten dollar bill. A fountain to my left shoots thin streams of water into the air, and a man in a khaki shirt is hunched down taking photographs of a nearby fern. I think, Should I have given him the ten? Continuing forward and up some round stairs, I turn left again. How big of a lie did I tell? Two nicely dressed Latino men in beige suits are sitting on a bench, one resting his head on the other’s lap. Neither wore shoes. I gave the all of my change to the crazy-looking lady at Temple Square, but beard guy actually walked up to me and tried.
Moving up, I stop at a crosswalk next to a bush, a tree, and a street light. A long line of cars and pickup trucks blocks the intersection, stopped because of another light down the street. Was that a lie?