He stands motionless, one arm lagging at his side like a piece of unspooled yarn while the other one is thumbing through a boutique novelette. He reads with the kind of urgency you’d expect from someone taking the bar, or fine tooth combing a life insurance policy for loopholes.
When he lifts his head to glare at a pain in the ass kid who isn’t getting his way, I’m staring at Charles Manson, as if the devil had a clearance sale. His eyes are onyx colored rivets of blankness that scream silently at every single thing they trespass upon. He’s wearing a faded blue LA Dodgers cap that hides the top of his shaved dome. The years have carved up his face to where it appears as granite, with ridged grooves whose spirals tell stories, unspeakably horrible ones. His lips are colorless reptilian slits. His chin is a violent heave of bone with the two ample points buttoned down by a dimple whose charm seems woefully out of place, like Charles Dickens at a death metal concert.
He buries himself inside the pages of the dandelion colored romance novel once again and it feels like a macabre illusion; as if I’m watching Mephistopheles share spongecake with a miniature poodle inside a Volkswagen Beetle.
There is the slightest tell in his body language, as if he senses my probing interest and his brain is getting high on it. It soon becomes obvious that he knows I’m onto him, the same as everybody else is onto him. He’s plenty used to being that fatal wreck everyone slows down to examine. And he doesn’t given a blessed Virgin Mary, because he never suffered a fall from grace since he was already there.
He returns the book to its shelf as if the Hope Diamond, and then he chooses another selection as he begins to hum. I get close enough to listen, and his voice is a throaty, inconvenient furnace of menthol and hard liquor. He’s stealing Donizetti’s Quanto e’ bella to his demon sound in much the same way he once stole dollhouses and running away from home.
He shakes his head as if he just read a passage that stinks of sour milk and he closes the book in a flourish. A smile curls his reptile lips as he releases a clumsy sigh.
He starts moving down the aisle and his crumpled frame is quickly getting lost inside a feast of shopping carts and chiming phones and lipstick covered lattes and crying babies. And then he’s gone like smoke, to the pursuits of a mysterious wherever.
Because the days are evil, and he’s just another guy.