I've always seemed to attract the attention of those who are ... Well, let's call them a little left of centre.
Eric was a tramp (I guess homeless person would be a more PC description but Eric really was the real deal and I always had the impression it was a lifestyle he wouldn't change).
I first met Eric on my way to work in the early hours of a cold Autumn morning. At that time I worked in an IT department and we took it in turns to do the early shift which meant being in the office by 6am to get all the computer systems up and running and to check the overnight logs for errors.
I was walking through the early morning mist in the churchyard when Eric scared the crap out of me as he climbed over the high gate of the church porch where he had spent the night.
He became a bit of a regular fixture of my morning walk and he would escort me to the edge of the churchyard and see me safely on my way.
I have to admit to having a bit of a soft spot for Eric and took to bringing him cups of tea each morning ('4 sugars but don't stir it').
When Eric developed a rash (probably due to the many companions that appeared to live in his clothing) I bought him some antihistamine cream, I had no chance of getting him to see a doctor so it was the best compromise I could come up with.
Eric was extraordinarily grateful for my concern and gave me regular updates regarding the progression of the rash which unfortunately extended to showing it to me so I could inspect it for myself ... Sometimes in public ... Sometimes in the middle of town ... With other people around ...
One day I realised that it had been several weeks since I last saw Eric.
I asked at the homeless shelter where he occasionally spent the night if anyone knew where he was. No one had seen him and no one knew where he had gone.
I realised how very little I really knew about him. He never talked about his past. I'd assumed he was local as, although he was fairly well spoken, he had a slight Somerset burr to his voice.
I never saw Eric again and I often wish I'd known his story.