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The Indefinite Article.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

The Ghost of Christmas Future


Do crazy people see true things that people who aren't crazy do not? Can they see a person's aura? can they see me how i will be tomorrow? or how i have been? is each crazy person imbued with a particular vision?

He was an old man wearing reindeer antlers with blinking lights on them. I was standing on the corner of lamar and main waiting for my bus. Loose groups form at bus stops; those with common busses tend to huddle together and share idle conversation. As soon as i had arrived on the corner i had taken a long look down the opposite end of the lamar. There is a pattern, i realized, I look for. There is a particular look to the road if it is jammed up wtih busses and the cars that are swerving around them to get out of downtown quickest. The road was nearly empty. The near huddle of cars was three blocks away and i couldn't see the tops of any busses peeking from behind them.

I relaxed a little bit and retreated under the eaves of the corner building. I put my backpack down beside me and stretched my shoulders. "You look tired," she said, "got all your shopping done yet?"

"No," i replied, "that's why i look like this"

We shared xmas stories from how my son is learning not to touch teh glass ornaments on our xmas tree to shopping till the last minute. It was during this small talk that the busses started to pile up at the distant lights. I picked up my backpack which, in a very subliminal way, is an indication for everyone to get ready. And if you were above us, watching our little ant bodies, you would see the loosely organized clusters gently start to move, to rock back and forth from under the eave to the edge of the curb. look closer and you would see most everyone squinting down street trying to decipher the green marquee dots that sit along the top of the buses.

The first bus to show up is an express bus. The express group gathered their bags and started to shuffle up to the curb while it was still sitting at a red light a block away. At the curb at the end of a loose line that was beginning to form, a man was taking a long last drag on his cigarrette before he tossed it. And from nowhere a small old bearded man ran up to him and pointed at his cigarrette. It caught my attention only becuase of how insistent and determined he seemed to be. I thought for only a brief second that he was asking to borrow a cigarrette. In a flash, though, the man handed the nearly new cigarrette to the old man and boarded the bus.

I thought i heard an mmm-mmm from his beard as he puffed several quick clouds of smoke from his beard. I looked back down at the book i carried with me. He came and stodd in front of me and adjusted the antlers he had on his head. He mumbled something, or maybe i was really not listening.

"Excuse me?"

"Are my lights flashing?"

I looked up to and saw the red and green lights flashing on his antlers. "Yes, they are," i replied. He shook his eyes and kinda grinned and took a big drag. He was downwind from me so the smoke trailed behind him like a train engine but i could still smell the old smoke in his corteroy jacket, and the tar that had stained his white beard.

He had the same body as my father-in-law. His skin was folded around his hands the way the blankets look when you don't make your bed. He stood maybe 5 to 6 inches shorter than me, so it wasn't immediately that i noticed that he had put his fist out to me. I tapped his fist with my own and figured that if i continued to read he would simply walk away. He didn't of course, and i was ready with my, "I'm sorry, i don't carry cash," (i don't) response. These days i always think of Amber who will offer street people a laundry list of shelters and help centers when they ask for money.

Instead, he said, "Do you know who loves you more than me?"

"A lot of people, i think.," i replied sarcastically.

"No. Him," and he motioned with his eyes and his hands skyward, "Do you know why?"

"I really don't know," i replied honestly.

"Because he wants your soul!" He was just staring at me and was standing close. i felt myself backing up slightly. "You're going to die. You're going to die. You're going to die." I thought it was odd that he would say it three times. "Are you going to heaven?"

"I assume so." I tried to exude some sort of confidence or aggressiveness. It must have worked, because with that response he shrugged his shoulders and walked off. Normal encounters with street people don't really phase me this way, but today was a spectacularly normal day. The kind of day that i will never remember in a million years. The kind of day that will simply melt into the year that was 2004 when someone asks me about the time i lived in Houston, or the time that i spent taking the bus to and from work. So when his yellow and white wrinkled face was parked in front of mine for that brief time, it seemed extraordinary as if by providence.


  • Baby, this makes me feel sad.
    I read it today, but it's impact was very different than what I experienced yesterday, when Aolfo didn't allow us a moment to sit down and together and contemplate this. In exhasperation, you blurted out what the man told you. Yesterday I felt chills when you spoke those words. I tried to make it go away by not paying to it, kind of like when Adolfo says "damit" and we don't respond hoping to not reinforce the habit with a reaction. You immediately left to the store. The words, and your tone, smothered my head and made it difficult to respond to Adolfo's cries for juice. He suddenly changed his tone and requested hugs instead. I think he could sense something was amiss.
    I am sort of elated now after reading this. No longer am I weighed down by those insistent words. Maybe the soft glow of the sun through the clouds has shed a new light on this, or maybe I actually had a restful sleep, it could be that your safe return from running last night's errands, our veg-out together-time in the glow of the Christmas tree when Adolfo was finally asleep, or just the simple warmth of your sleepy breathing comforted me. In any case, today, Iam no longer shocked and scared by those words. I am touched, saddened a little, but glad that when the day is over, we can share our love with Adolfo and know that regardless, he will always know that he grew up in a house of love.

    By Blogger CarolinaDivina, at 11:12 AM  

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