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Creek Running North

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September 22, 2004

Coyote bites

This morning I sat commuting on the subway, innocently minding my own commuting business, listening to loud commuting music on my headphones. Twenty minutes into my ride, a man who had just sat down next to me tapped my arm.

“OK,” I thought: “he must be able to hear my music, and is going to ask me to turn it down. The last thing I want to do is bother anyone, so I’ll just put on my cooperative face and do as he asks.” I pulled out the earbuds and looked at him.

“Good morning!” He smiled. He was 55 or so, slender, dark-chocolate skin and bright white goatee. He wore overhauls and a Caterpillar hat. I smiled back. Good morning!

There must have been an implied question in my response, an expectation that he had something on his mind. He shook his head.

“Oh, I just wanted to say good morning. I think that’s important. You get so upset about things. You get so preoccupied with the minor details of your life. And if you’re not doing that, you’re getting upset about the big stuff, the world falling apart, the things you really are too small to do anything about.”

He turned toward me, put both hands on my arm, squeezed gently to make sure I was paying attention. He was still just as relaxed, still just as friendly, but there was a keen earnestness down deep that froze my spine. He inhaled deliberately, exhaled the same way. His voice got very purposeful, the way my teachers’ voices did when I failed to understand something painfully simple for the third time.

“Look. What good does it do you going around all depressed about the world falling apart? What good does it do the world for you to get other people all depressed about it? You gotta relax, man. You gotta relax.” He settled back into his half of the bench, straightening his spine against the backrest. “Life is still just damned good.”

He breathed again, frowned a second, then chuckled. “I don’t know what just came over me, friend. It felt like something came over me. I don’t know why I did that.”

I stared at him for a second, my eyes the size of pickle jar lids, then broke into my best confused Ted “Theodore” Logan smile, and we had a normal conversation for a while, in which he no longer used the second person singular pronoun. We slid into Embarcadero Station, and I walked up the stairs with trembling knees.

Posted by Chris Clarke at September 22, 2004 04:58 PM TrackBack URL for this entry:
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Comments

Oh my. Well, talking to you may have saved him from jumping on the tracks. How can we ever know?

Posted by: beth at September 22, 2004 05:11 PM
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Vicki will tell you that person just got a visit from God or at least an angel, and you were lucky enough to be present. Me, I'm not so sure. But *something* sure kicked him in the pants.

Posted by: Paul Tomblin at September 22, 2004 06:26 PM
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His message was remarkably similar to that piece of Abbey's you posted. Not that I could see Ed being much into channelling . . .

Posted by: Siona at September 22, 2004 10:10 PM
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the gary zukov theory about the extended capabilities of our senses would argue that he was fully capable of "reading" you without needing to have you say or do something. intuition is too simple a word for this.

Posted by: susurra at September 22, 2004 11:40 PM
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He was a nutter.

He does that to a certain number of people each day. When he gets to the next higher prime number of people, he gives his speech and then kills that person. You were probably, like, number 6 that day or something. Check the news - there was a dead body found in the car either 1 or 5 stops further along the line.

People don't get intuitive jolts from the beyond that cause them to make subliminal contact with the human closest to their vibrational energy on this plane. They stalk public transit with skinning knives, rusty with dried blood, in the pockets of their OshKoshes and leave a trail of disembowled corpses with Fermat's theorem carved into their foreheads. I'm telling you - the guy was a nutter.

Posted by: Kevin T. Keith at September 23, 2004 07:02 AM
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sounds like some good advice to me. can't hurt anyone much to just relax. can it??

Posted by: Anne at September 23, 2004 09:31 AM
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Paul said: "Vicki will tell you that person just got a visit from God or at least an angel, and you were lucky enough to be present."

And I have to say I was thinking that, but not that the other guy got a visit. You just got a visit.


Posted by: Vicki at September 23, 2004 12:09 PM
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I wonder how many people _didn't_ take the time to listen to him that day, before he got to you.

Posted by: Rana at September 23, 2004 12:11 PM
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Cuius rei demonstrationem mirabilem sane detexi. Hanc frons exiguitas non caperet.

Posted by: Chris Clarke at September 23, 2004 04:05 PM
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yeah, but can you also do it in pig latin?

Posted by: susurra at September 24, 2004 09:36 PM
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Pig Latin is no problem for me: I live in the belly of the East Bay.

Posted by: Chris Clarke at September 24, 2004 09:53 PM
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I'm OK with it except for the touching. Too much touching for a total stranger! He may not have been homicidal, but I'm with Kevin: he was a nutter.

Posted by: Doc Rock at September 25, 2004 10:16 AM
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