Peek-a-boo with the Little Chinese Man

I've been thinking about him lately- it's been quite some time since I've seen him. In fact I had made a mental note to see exactly how long it's been.

Was he still around? Did somebody finally kill him? Had he been imprisoned for some unspeakable crime?

As I walk home from work every day I pass the myriad locations where I've spotted him over the past seven or eight years, maybe more now. I can't keep track. Scenes of my own disintegration that I replay in my mind as I wait for the light to change at this corner or that corner, looking for him (and the others) from the corner of my eye.

And like it has happened so many times before, as if he and I are locked in some endless variation of hide-and-seek, I turned the last corner, reaching my block, and saw him standing on the corner fifty feet away, waiting for the light and a sign from God to do who knows what heinous atrocity.

Crossing the street, moving toward him, I caught his eye. He looked at me with suspicion and faint recognition. Then I saw the click of recognition in his face. He took a step away, then back, quickly looking in the other direction.

The light changed in his favor, and he stepped into the street.

He was wearing his puffy brown jacket and the same beige trousers hemmed four inches too high that he's worn for years like a second skin.

He looked at me over his shoulder as he crossed the street.

"Hi!" I called out, and gave him a little wave, doing my best impersonation of a cheerful, happy person.

"Oh!" he said, and looked confused.

I turned to see if there was any oncoming traffic. When I looked back he was turning away from me.

I turned and made my way toward my building and then stopped and looked back. He was still moving, zig-zagging in the street, looking back over his shoulder, and quickly turned his head away when he saw I had stopped.

We went back and forth like this perhaps a dozen times- I'd turn around to see him quickly looking away, then look away myself, wondering what to do next. He seemed equally confused.

Five months and five days since our last encounter, the Little Chinese Man and I were now playing peek-a-boo, performing a strange dance in the street while dozens of other people moved between us, blocking our view of one another. Keeping us apart.

Finally I thought to reach into my pocket for my phone so I could take his picture. Maybe this would be the day I finally captured his terrifying face. I switched the camera on and turned in his direction.

But he was gone, and though from where I stood I could clearly see two blocks down the street, he was nowhere to be seen.