Monday, November 17, 2003

The Phantom Slur

I am many things, but a random name-caller I am not.
At least, not usually.

Waiting on Yonge St. is always a trip; what kind of trip depends on the time of day. Night time is my favorite; the crazies in the city find the dark liberating. It gives them enough shadows to hide in so that they can get up to enough mischief to entertain me. And the best way to attract the attention of these free spirits of the night, is to try and not attract attention. The more common and innocent you look, usually the more suspicious you become to them.

The stage: a bit of sidewalk outside Starbucks at King and Yonge.
Yours truly barely minding my own business, let alone anyone else's, and this rough version of The Scarecrow in 'The Wizard of Oz' goes rolling by. Stops. Comes back to me and says:

A- "Did you just call me 'Puke', man?"

I was taken aback by a few things. His appearance wasn't especially 'crazy'; it was how close of a look I was getting at it. He was right in my face. I was trying to read a detective novel. It looked as though the mysteries of Chapter 13 would have to wait.

B- "Uh. . .no. I didn't."
A- "Shit. I'm cracking up, man! I'm cracking up!!"

He was.

He proceeded to ask me, at a more comfortable distance, my opinion. It was to set the next course of his life, and he figured that I was the guy destiny had chosen to direct him.

His question?

A- "Should I stay, or should I go?"
B- "That depends. Where will you stay, and where would you go?"
A- "I would go to London."
B- "Ontario?"
A- "Yeah."
B- "The Forest City! It's nice, pal. I'm from near there. You should go there; get out of this busy city."
A- "If I go there, I'm going to the looney bin."
B- ". . .oh."
A- "I'm A-WOL from there. The looney bin in London."
B- ". . .oh. Well, maybe you should stay here. . .?"

I didn't know if I should word it like a question, or a direction; I couldn't figure out if he favoured one over the other, and I didn't want him to think that I was telling him that he was a nutbar and should not pass 'Go', but go directly to the booby hatch.

A- "If I stay here I think that I'm going to kill someone and end up in jail."
B- ". . .oh."

I've said some things in the past that could be construed as 'conversation killers', but this one was all him.

All I was thinking at the time was, "Gosh. Am I ever glad that I didn't call this guy 'Puke'." And then I started trying to figure out if I should dial my cell phone on the sly and leave the line open, so that whomever I dialed could catch my last minutes on Earth. I could pull something clever, like saying "Well, any place is better than standing on the corner of King and Yonge talking about killing people." or "Have you ever just wanted to say, 'I love you Mom and Dad, and I wish that I had fresh underwear on'?". Or maybe even just, "Scooby-Doo, where are you!?"

But I didn't. In fact, I was concentrating so hard on what he was saying, and trying to carefully word a response, that I don't think I could have managed something even so clever as, "HEY! Look over there! Yoink."

My nutty buddy began to weigh the pros and cons of each city, gesturing occasionally with his hands (one of which clearly had a hospital wrist band on it). I listened with great interest, having no other bright ideas at the time.

He laid it out like this:
If he went back to London he could get help, but he'd be locked up in the hospital again, and likely in solitary, because he had been bad and run off.
If he stayed in Toronto, he was going to kill someone, and he would get caught because he was never good at anything.

I thought that it was too bad he was better at killing someone than he was at getting away with it. If I had my druthers, I rather have someone cut off my finger and never have the cops find him, than be dead and vindicated by the law.

We discussed the upside and downside of each option, and I told him that I thought getting out of the city would do him a world of good. I said that Toronto drove me crazy, and if I were him I'd grab a bit of peace and quiet in the good ol' Forest City if I were him.

Here's the pinch, though. He agreed with me, then asks for some money to get to London.
The fucker.
I told him that I knew how to get him a free ride to London.

Some people are always on the take, no matter how crazy or homicidal they are.

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