It did not lead to too much kerfuffle for me but I had no idea until I got to the office that today was Columbus Day. In fact I did not know until I got all the way upstairs and looked it up. I did not want to appear ignorant by asking anybody what the holiday is that lead the company to lock the back door entrance on John Street. They only lock those doors on major holidays, which include Columbus, Labor, New Years, Thanksgiving/Christmas and maybe a couple others. On non-major holidays the back doors on John Street are opened.
I saw someone yesterday who could, and should, spark fear or at least concern in me. Someone I used to be friends with, and one of the few people I ever smoked pot with, not that that natters except to illustrate that he had my trust (I hate pot, it makes me paranoid and even the smell makes me nauseous). We were bar buddies and once in a while he’d hang out at my place or I at his. We went to cemeteries. That’s where we smoked pot. Never at my place. He was not unintelligent but a little twitchy. I helped him get a job once by giving him an email address on my AOL account. He had no computer and accessed this only through library terminals or friends’ home PCs, as I recall. He would often say that having that email address was the key to him getting the job as some kind of documents clerk or something. He would describe the Zen feeling of sorting and organizing documents like it was his only reason to live. We had other moments of insight and camaraderie but after a while it became obvious we had nothing much to talk about. He was a yellow cab driver until he got fired or quit (I don’t remember which) and he kept the clerk job for maybe 5 or 6 months.
I don’t know what happened next but a few years later I heard from a mutual friend that she had seen this dude on the subway. He was unshaven, smelled horrible, wore a heavy coat in the summertime, and cut a generally unkempt profile. He was homeless. I never would have predicted this but it is what it is. He was full bore, living in cardboard boxes off Times Square, scrounging food from trash cans, the whole homeless shabang. Apparently he lost it when his mother kicked him out of the house and moved back to India without him. That’s when the homelessness started. Then he heard she died and that may have triggered him to lose his fucking mind. I don’t even know but the friend who encountered him that day said he was incoherent and pretty damn scary to be around.
I felt the same way when (fast forward 5 or 6 years) I encountered this person in Astoria. He called out my name, asking “Don’t you remember me?” At first I did not but it quickly came back to me. He looked basically the same as I remembered, though his nails were solid black and the twitchiness I remembered was on overdrive. He boasted of having mastered the shelter system, he always had pot and beer on his person, and he spoke as if he had no cares in the world. I knew he was lying. I knew him well enough from years earlier to know when he was lying.
Having fallen out of touch with the rest of he had only learned recently that Sandra had died. He was a bit of a creep toward her, and toward other women in our circles. But it seemed wrong that he would wait years to learn of her passing.
Point being, not to retell this whole saga, but to add that there may be a new chapter to it. I saw someone who looked an awful lot like this person yesterday, walking on a street about a block from where I live. He would likely still remember where I live, but I don’t assume or default to any assumptions about that. He could be anywhere. He has that stride about him that says he walks, hops subway turnstiles, and goes wherever the hell he pleases.
If that was him, he had that look of arrogance and anger at not getting what he deserves from society. He deserves everything, for free, and failure of society to arrange this is causing his anger to accumulate. That is how I interpret his gait. Head cocked, eating a slab of pizza he found in a trash can, looking around. That’s a signature of certain homeless. They look around, aware of anything that is aware of them. I felt I had to hide from him, which I successfully did.
For all this, I remain uncertain if it was really him, and there will most likely be no way to know unless he really is coming to get me. I do not spend anywhere near as much time in Astoria as I used to. So encounters like this, if that’s even what it was, would be less likely than before. But still, something about seeing this person walking with nowhere to go made me stop in my tracks, and hide.