Chapter 5h

Logic is a twisted bitch. Sometimes it works in a logical way and sometimes not. The bitch of it is that when logic works in an illogical way it still presents itself as logical. I know I'm not making sense, I'm at least passingly cognizant of that. Let me try to translate. Science says some things can't happen. Science, however, works wonders and over time finds ways to make those things happen. It's completely illogical that it would work but science uses logic on it until it does.

Sometimes I wonder if we're just monkeys building space ships that only work because we have no concept that they shouldn't. Imagine how much further along technological progress would be if we were any stupider.

But, as always, there's a central point to my ramblings. Currently, the point is the man I met in the city today. It was a strange occurrence but I guess that's the way these things have to go. If it weren't strange, logic would be shot.

The man I met was just a run of the mill bum, from the looks of things. His hair was long and coarse and a tangled mop of gray. His face was covered in a short thick beard. It looked like he wanted to be shaven, just didn't have the means. Maybe it didn't look like that, I suppose. I say that phrase to myself, trying to bring up the first image it incites, and it doesn't look any different from the person who didn't shave out of laziness or desire to be bearded. His clothes were filthy rags of disgusting earthen colors. His breath did not reek of booze, like his looks suggested, but of epiphany.

I wouldn't call that moment I saw him presque vu, though. There was that teetering moment of almost uncovering something when my eyes met his and when we spoke but it wasn't quite in line with that phrase. It wasn't deja vu, although his face seemed to crop up a million memories, and it wasn't jamais vu because, despite whatever he reminded me of, I'd never seen him or his little tin cup, held apathetically as if he didn't really care if anybody noticed him. Maybe he didn't. I guess you could call it peut-etre vu because it was something but I can't be too sure what.

I met his eyes when I walked past. He said to me, "spare some change?"

I wanted to say no and I usually would, more because of lack of cash than lack of social obligation, but I couldn't. I could hear change jingling in my pocket when I walked. If he had a keen ear, he might have heard it, too. I dropped a few quarters and some dimes, maybe a nickle or two, into his cup. He didn't thank me or take his eyes off of me. He just said, "Good, now buy me dinner."

I said, "Excuse me?" That could have been rude or an otherwise negative statement to him but it wasn't meant that way. I honestly couldn't tell for sure that I'd heard him right. The words seemed clear, even uncharacteristically clear to come from the mouth of a hobo like I had met, but the sounds didn't seem to form into any meaning for me, it was like he'd just asked for directions to the cinnamon sugar swirls of prehistoric equivalent of Apollo 18. Maybe it wasn't quite like that but all the same, I hope I've conveyed that it didn't make much sense.

He said, "Buy me dinner."

I said, "No," and he didn't argue. He looked at me, though, in this way that said I was wrong, that I was going to buy him dinner. I couldn't shake it so, before I looked away, said, "Let's go get a burger," and we did.

The place we went was nearby, some mom and pop style place that probably had a name but only said "Diner" on the sign. I got a cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato and onion and a coke. He got the same, plus onion rings, chicken strips, coleslaw, and a Belgian waffle. I asked him why I had bought him dinner.

"Ah dunno," he said, "you just did. That was just the way it happened. You felt like it so you did."

I didn't really have an argument to that, the statement seemed pretty dead on. We mostly didn't say much. I ate my food slowly, hoping he would finish first, but he ate only as fast as I did. Then I waited for him to finish, staring at my plate and my empty drink glass, occasionally glancing up to watch him stuff his mouth with a scoop or handful of whatever.

He really did look familiar. I could almost swear I'd seen him somewhere, met him, talked to him, knew him intimately, but I was certain that I'd never seen him at all, too. It's an odd feeling and I wish I could explain it better.

He finally did finish and, upon doing so, thanked me. I didn't say "you're welcome," I didn't say, "no problem," I didn't try to tell him that I didn't mind. I did mind. I said, "So what's your name, anyway?"

He waved the question away with a swoop of his left hand. The hand seemed too clean to belong to the type of man he presented himself to be. His nails were short, with nothing gathered under them. He didn't have any callouses, cuts, anything flaw in skin except a long scar along the palm of his hand. I could imagine how he got that but from the looks, he must have been just a child who was now probably around sixty. He was old, certainly, but the rags and beard didn't seem to make him look any older. They covered him physically but I could see through them, see the man this person was trying to hide.

He told me, "The reason you wanted to bring me here," then stopped to take a drink of his coke. He hadn't touched it for minutes. He wasn't that damn thirsty. He just wanted to make a dramatic pause. It infuriated me for some reason. Other people do it, especially in movies and things, and I'm sure I've done it a time or two, but it infuriated me that time. It, like his short gnarled beard, was transparent. I wanted to act.

I stood up, flipped the table out from between us and slapped the glass from his hand then slapped his stupid stunned face with the same hand. I yelled, "Get to the fucking point, man!" and stormed out without giving him a chance to.

That was what I wanted. I waited for him to put down his glass. He took a final sip, took the straw out of his mouth, maybe smacked his lips, maybe not, and set the glass down gingerly on the table. He continued, "was so that I could tell you something." All that build up... "You wanted me to tell you how you were going to die." ...just to reach madness.

"Nope," I said. "Got anything else?"

"Nope," he said. "That's it."

"Alright," I said, "you might as well tell me so that we can get out of here."

"Alright," he said, "one day you're just going to wake up."

When I was eleven or so I remember some little game floating around the school. "How will you die?" it said. Somebody had made up a quiz or, more likely, copied it from a book, and it started making the rounds. Everybody thought it was really cool, apparently, because it caught on and soon everybody was writing out copies of it so they could have their friends do it, too, because it was "so scary." Even at the time, I didn't find the knowledge of how I was going to die scary as much as factual. I also didn't consider that quiz so much factual as recreational.

Still, it made its way around by convincing a bunch of prepubescent kids that the future could be foretold by questions asking about which Hollywood monster you thought was scariest or what their favorite holiday was. I remember it telling me I was going to be shot in he head. A few incarnations later and I think it told me that I would die of old age. I think around the time people started having multiple deaths pending was when it started to lose popularity.

Anyway, that was that. I guess that was what he wanted from me, or what I wanted from him if he was to be believed. I paid the tab and we left. At the time, I took him for an odd hobo. Not the normal type who are happy enough to remain mostly invisible but some strange breed that wanted to share their psychosis with everybody. I've thought about that conversation in the time since then a lot. I'm not convinced he was a hobo at all. I think he was just an asshole. I think he thought it would be funny to convince some other asshole (namely, myself) that he was homeless, get a free meal, then tell them something "profound" with no actual meaning.

At the time I was seeing a woman named Sandra. It had been a few months, we were fairly close. I told her about the incident as I at over my second dinner that night. She told me she thought it was just bullshit to score a free meal and that was when I decided the same. She made a joke about it and we both laughed. I liked her, she seemed more real than the last ones. She drank beer and enjoyed sex and didn't always shave her chubby legs. Maybe the other ones did that too but the strange part about that is that I don't really know. If that part of their character had been written someplace, I missed it.

Sandra, though, she was real. She had those little aspects that define a person as such and a million more that I couldn't even think to put into words. I don't think I even realized how not real women had been until I talked with her. It made sense for me to trust her assessment of the situation. So I did.