He always felt like he could lose everything, so he stayed ahead. He kept himself ready to move, rehearsing in his head what could be sold or shipped and how fast.

It must have been sometime in 2001. He had just moved into an apartment in Miami. He was walking back from the corner store with ice cream. A metal object was on the sidewalk directly in front of him, a small rack. At the bottom, there were three curved hooks for hats or light coats; on top, five metal letters forming the word “FAITH.” The “F” was broken. The top rung of the letterform was gone. It looked like it had been bitten off.

A broken faith coat rack. He picked it up, brought it home, and screwed it to the wall.

The broken faith coat rack was a good thing. It reminded him that everything breaks, no matter how hard he might try to hold things together. He was OK. He was a good neighbor. He laughed easily and was comfortable on the highway in the rain. He didn’t get tongue-tied or exhausted. He was helpful and kind.

—Marcus Civin