Anything a person could ever need may be found in a dumpster. People throw all kinds of things, useful things, into their trash. Old boots, towels, torn t-shirts and near empty toothpaste to half empty bags of chips, left over Krispy Kreme donuts, worn out winter coats to warm those cold hours; from the suburban household family who forgets the goodwill drop off of their second-hand goods to the garbage of half-eaten chicken and left over food near spoiled rotten wrapped in tin foil to the basic environmentally ignorant who toss away aluminum cans, old newspapers, and plastic cups, a cornucopia of goods as worthy as cash remains in wait for the straggling scavenger who saves one man’s junk and turns it into his jewel.
A traveler, a self-proclaimed freegan seeking freedom and peace at the cost of his luxury, hopped down into the large apartment complex’s metal disposal in hope of finding some decent food to strengthen him on his sojourn. His appearance was haggard, with an overgrown beard and unkempt hair, wearing brown, stained slacks, a buttoned up but sweat stained dress shirt and carrying a rucksack on his back that contained what he considered the essentials to his survival. He rummaged through the muck for minutes when a voice forced him to stall. He flinched and gazed toward the other side of the dumpster where another man had come to pay homage to the cast outs of man’s use.
“Lookin’ for food? Here, take this,” and the stranger tossed a crumbled fast food chain bag toward his direction. “Half a burger in there, some French fries too,” he said.
“Thanks,” the traveler said. He studied the stranger and recognized something about him that he found disturbing. His skin wrapped around his bone, his eyes were wrinkled and black, his teeth half gone, and he laughed with the cackle familiar to drug addicts. “You don’t want it?”
“Nah, I just need a straw and some foil. Ya know, anything ya want you can find here. It’s like a goddamn treasure cove!”
The familiarity of the stranger, from his words to his countenance, sent an unmistakable shiver up the traveler’s spine, a tinge that sparked both his body and mind. “Why do you need those?” the traveler asked.
The stranger reached into his own black slacks, deep into the pockets, and revealed a tan case for holding spectacles. He opened it, revealing a bag with crystals inside. “Had to sell my pipe for some dough, but who needs it when ya can find tin anywhere. Ya want some?” He asked, removing tin foil from a bag and creasing it in the middle, dropping the shards into the center, and setting his lighter underneath.
“I don’t do that anymore,” the traveler said. “I have the same case,” and he pulled his out, revealing a harmonica inside. “I’ve been traveling from the East and broke my glasses along the way so I just store this in it instead.”
“I had glasses,” the stranger said.
“What happened to them?”
“Pawned. I..uh..near-sighted, that’s what they call it I think. Who cares ‘bout seeing the big picture anyways. Got a few grams money worth for’em.”
“Must be hard to see,” the traveler commented.
“Huh, what ‘bout you?”
“Far sighted,” he replied. “I can’t see what’s right in front of me but the big picture, that I get.” He watched the stranger smoke the crystal and inhale it through a straw. “Where you headed,” he asked.
“East, owe some guys money, decided to just skip out. You?”
So familiar. The traveler couldn’t place it. “West, trying to find myself, put my life together. Kind of a spiritual journey you could say.”
Exhaling, the stranger glared into the sky with a blank, empty gaze within his eyes. “Good luck with that,” he said and climbed out the dumpster, walking in the direction of the sunrise.
The traveler picked himself out of the rubble, confused as to how he knew the familiar man. He began eating the hamburger and watching the stranger leave. As the stranger reached the horizon, the traveler finally recognized him, his vision cleared with the distance. The traveler had a hard time seeing him through the flood of tears that began tirelessly down his cheeks. He dropped the burger.