His Turf is on my block and he usually sits outside Popeyes in his wheelchair where he asks for change or anything you can spare. We always talk a little every time I see him. Once we bonded over Midnight, a little puppy he was dog sitting. A month ago- jumping out of my cab- he randomly was right in front of my building on his way home and he looked like a movie star. Me: "Rickie- you look so handsome" Rickie: "I went to church today. I gotta look good in church. Last time I was in church..." Popeyes Rickie became Rickie Corbett. One out of 14 siblings. Single father to a son at 15 years old. A Park Slope native and someone that almost broke a mans neck last time he went to church... but for a really good reason. We talked for 30 minutes and for the first time in years he let me take his photo on September 8th 2014. Rickie reminds me that his mum passed away exactly a year ago, September 8th 2013. Rickie had told me this date before. I thought it was a pretty special thing I got to photograph him on this day.
A few months after this in December of 2014, I ran to his corner. I had a Christmas present for him. It was a framed photograph from our evening and a few more stills. Rickie smiled at me and said: "I know what this is. I can't wait to unwrap this later" He hid the package in his wheelchair, gave me a sweet blessing and continued his day by Popeyes. When I came back in January after my trip home, I went out to find him. It had gotten colder and he was no where to be found. Daily passing his spot I hoped I would see him as spring came nearer but still no Rickie and none of his friends knew where he had disappeared to.
Rickie Corbett pops in my head often, he is one of the reminder in life that everyone has something to teach you and no matter what stamp society gives someone, one should never forget that. I pretend he won the lottery, and was able to get the healthcare he needed and a warm and safe place to call home and is now just catching up on his reading and fashion. He always told me he really loved fashion.
So here is to Rickie, where ever he is, and his mum. Bed-Stuy New York.