The Red-Faced Man stood on the corner of Washington St. staring of into the distance. Unmoving, he demanded the attention of each an every driver that approached. Staring not at them, but rather allowing his authority to take root in them. Some cursed him, others willingly obeyed, and in one peculiar instance he was approached for conversation. The motives of this outgoing ‘assailant’ were not physically violent, but the nature of the conversation being an unloading of tragic lifetime experience upon the Red-Faced Man seemed violent enough.
“hey man, can i bother you for a cigarette?”
The Red-Faced man did not break his gaze or trouble himself with a glance or acknowledgment toward this type of street dweller.
“oh there’s one at your feet! I appreciate that! Say, you don’t talk very much do you……….”
“hey dats cool man. I ain’t judgin. Ya know just me man, i cant deal wif no person dat likes to be talkin all da time. I think people just like to hear themselfs talk for da take of talkin. Know wat I mean?”
The Red-Faced Man did not feel it necessary to conjure a response to remark, he simply allowed passage for the man to say more if he wished, reading quite plainly that this man had a lot he wished to talk about.
“hey look buddy I tell you one ting…..I should of never moved away from San Fransisco. I have no idea why i came back to this cold gawd forsaken place. I used to hav me a motorcycle and a small apartment. That was just enough to get me by. I didn’t have no wife or kids back there neather. It was way easy only me looking out my own and partying. Drivin those hills with the young ladies. Me and my buddy Conrad was fresh out the army and rearing to hit the bars every night. We’d get ourselves into a fite almos every night, but man lookin back on it was fun, now he’s a drunk, sits outside the gas station over on second, poor ol boy… ”
The Red-Faced Man was not apathetic nor sympathetic to the man clear longing for a younger day. He simply remained. Listening. Absorbing. Staring.
“Got this property owner im workin for now done by the riverside and he been sellin me short i tink. Dis other guy been workin wit me too and he brown nosing him real hard. We both doin da same job but i kno he makin more money dan me. So i just say to him the other day i says….man i know youre making more money dan me. I don care man I don care but dang man, gimme sometin. Just 10cents more wood help.”
The Red-Faced Man made no move.
“Naw naw now i cant ask him for more, of course it dont bother me or nothin i just make sure to mess with him. If he wan to suck up to da man than a hell ill let him some people jus need dat. Dont bother me none. But i tell you what i aint gonna let myself get so week dat i cave like dat id rather take the pay cut what does it matter you know? I aint to wussy.”
The Red-Faced Man handled the random, passive-aggressive slander with indifference and complete detachment. Clearly the captive conversation would only change if he could break from his steady commanding gaze and walk down the street in the opposite direction but it was impossible for some reason. There was no ability to go nor any place to go to. The Red-Faced Man simply stayed to hear the ramblings of the negative evangelist.
“Life is hard brother and having kids and getting married young can only add to that so be carefully who you reckon on settling down with hell, if i could do it all over again I mighta stayed on the coast and lived as a bachelor. But my moms was having a tough time and i stayed wit her for a few years till she died and I jus never got back to it. Part of me is in regret about the whole thing, and the other part of me just says life sucks and another part of me says its just time to go back to work . ‘might drink some beer tonight and eat pizza until I fall asleep in my chair. Ma family is always trying to get me out and what not but damn man, i work too much, i dont got unlimited energy and one day they’ll understand dat. I tell my son all the time he oughta go into a good trade so he can make da money and stay outta trouble.”
The Red-Faced Man Stared.
“You kno what da real problem is man, all dees big wigs running around here not changing a thing think dat day are werf sometin when all day do is look out for dem selves. Day dont think about tryin to share noffin wif us man, like I was sayin though it dont bother me non. life is hard but you just gotta get tuff i recken and get through it. Ah jeez. what am i complainin ta you for. You take er easy pal dont work too hard.”
The man proceeded down the street after flicking his cigarette into a nearby patch of grass. The Red-Faced Man continued to stand on the street corner rooted into the pavement by its metal hardware. His face read “STOP” plainly but still some ignored his protest and drove by without revere . Why the other man had chosen to vent to him he did not know he only knew that he remained…..unmoving, demanding the attention of each and every driver that approached. Staring not at them, but rather allowing his authority to take root in them. Some cursed him, others willingly obeyed.