My husband spotted him first. “Is that guy playing a violin over there?” he asked, indicating a thin strip of median at the entrance of a busy Walmart parking lot.
I rolled down a window, hoping to catch a note or two as traffic paused at a red light. Faint strains of hauntingly beautiful music intermixed with the crisp evening air that wafted in the minivan.
The decision to turn around was unanimous. My daughter fished around in her pockets to find a couple bills for us to toss in the man’s violin case as we paused in a vacant lot for a moment to just listen. While the guy’s arms worked the violin, his foot powered a homemade percussion instrument fashioned from a rusty midsized tin can. The minstrel played on, pausing only to accept a steady stream of bills offered through the windows of passing cars and to shake the hand of a homeless man who emerged from the shadowy side of a fast food joint to offer thanks for the dinner music.
I exited the car and crossed the street to hand deliver my offering. As I approached, the man met my gaze. He was young, friendly, and stopped playing to greet me and thank me for stopping. I told him his music was beautiful, and to my surprise he extended his hand and slipped me a gift of his own—a CD in a blank white envelope. “My brother plays with me on this,” he explained. “He added a bit of guitar.”
I thanked the musician, clutched the CD to my chest and ran back to my van. “He gave me a CD!” I called excitedly. We opened the envelope and popped the disk into the sound system and listened in fascination as the van swelled with the sound of…speed metal.