He was quietly sitting on the ground beneath the shadow of a closed business in Chattanooga, TN. Looking down, he refused to make eye contact with those passing by on a busy, but humid Saturday. The heat index was over 100 degrees. He wasn’t asking for money or help of any kind, just sitting in thought.
His name is William, “But my close friends call me peg leg,” he said with a laugh while holding up the prosthetic leg sitting by his right. He then said, “I was born with a clubfoot and they went ahead and removed it in 1966.” The foot was malformed from the start, so it was removed at birth.
“I usually have a good story for people when they ask what happened to my leg,” he told me with a smile. “Someday's I lost it in a shark attack, other times it was a ski boat accident,” he explained.
Today William is 51 years old. He was born in Chicago, Illinois, but later moved to Memphis where he lived a few years before heading to Chattanooga.
“I walk a lonely road
The only one that I have ever known
Don't know where it goes
But it's only me, and I walk alone
I walk this empty street
On the boulevard of broken dreams
Where the city sleeps
And I'm the only one, and I walk alone”
-Green Day, “I Walk Alone”