what i said to sam
"well i don't know much about any of that or any of anything else, but i do know this i think---"
"oh yeah, what's that?"
"there are about 75 billion human souls begging for a chance to get back in this place, begging for as long as they are just souls for a thing that will never happen. because once its over, its over forever. and we in it are all just dancing round the same fire as best we can for as long as we can. so, good luck with that."
"thank you, man. you too."
i started to walk but turned and added
"and, you know now, that's just one way to look at it. here's another, you're an angel and this all around you is heaven and we're just reminder notes to each other about that because angels have no memory."
then i left.
what i was thinking right before the moment sam appeared:
i look the part. by the part i mean i look like a guy you might think your chances are pretty good with asking for and getting a cigarette or a dollar. or, maybe if you find me in a bar, i might look like a guy you could strike a forward leaning chat with whether you're a guy or a girl---you'd think your chances were pretty good.
i think something similar every time i walk around south station, because here's one place i am always accosted. for one thing or another.
i was thinking i would write this out and let it be the start of something. but thought also to mention i consider these only facts that continuously assert themselves and that i neither mind them one way or another. because i'm not that interested in changing my presentation---at least not on account of these facts. and whether i do or do not change because of them is another matter. yet, i've been learning to have a little fun with everyone who accosts me.
how sam and i got started on the subject
so there i was, standing off the sidewalk in a little nook, partially concealed by some kind of bulkhead and then, halfway through my cigarette, sam came round the corner. he came round almost as if he were acting on cue. like he'd expected i'd be there. his demeanor was friendly and personal.
"hey man, those are some fine shoes."
"what sort of monkey are you?"
he asked me if my shoes were leather and then proceeded to tell me about his foot problems and hospital history and homelessness and church life. asked if i had kids and told me about his, all girls between 10 and 22. he assumed his oldest was older than me. he said he was grateful not to have been bothered by any of the mothers for child support. he didn't look at me when he talked. he took position about 2 feet from me, and looked out so that his line of sight intersected mine about three feet from each of our bodies. his hands were in his pockets, most of the time.
then he took the darkest passage possible and said he was happy with life, telling me at least he hadn't killed 3800 people or, like a guy he knew, who one day went off the deep end, killed nearly 60 people before skipping town and was never heard of again.
he muttered about this guy and the killings and the police looking for him but never catching him. i didn't quite tune sam out, but i didn't strain to hear him clearly either. right about then i had still a quarter cigarette to go. i checked my stance and distance from the ice, measured his body weight and thought what my first move would be if he advanced in a suddenly hostile way. i figured it would be easiest if i slipped to the left and used his inertia to toss him to the ground on the right, on the snow. then while he was slipping to get up i could walk nice and calmly back into the sidewalk traffic stream. and not have anything more to do with the matter.
but then he came back to the subject of his feet. i heard "...calluses sometimes the size of golf balls." he removed his glove and said "i'm, sam."
i shook his hand, said
if he wanted money, he didn't show any signs of wanting to ask. he was layered with a green coat over a red hoodie. the hood was drawn over his head and fastened. sam was a dark face peering out of a red world. he had a dark brown goatee with many gray hairs. his nostril hairs were rampant, were long enough to twinkle light in the blowing wind. when i saw this i thought back to the night before when i plucked one of my own nose hairs and it didn't hurt.
well sam didn't want money. guy just wanted to talk. specifically to another human, but not really as though it was another human. that's what i figured anyway. so i listened. beyond that there wasn't much value i could add to his life except, as i was about to, to announce the great common denominators all the living and all the dead share. so i did that, as i've already mentioned. i'm not sure what i said would have brightened his day entirely, certainly would not have solved all his problems---but i'm hopeful that i gave him something else to think about besides foot calluses, child support, and uncaught serial killers.
then i needed a long drink of water. so i went and did that.