He walks in the room and and the air changes. He gives off a kind of psychic sizzle most people can sense from across the room. People give him the long eye, then scoot aside, giving the man room.
He moves quickly, darting between people with a cell phone pressed to his ear and he’s clutching something. Could be a ragged pile of papers one week, an old cassette tape player the next. Some weeks, its an old heirloom-quality family bible.
When the room quiets down and the City Council gets going about their nightly business, he’s front and center demanding his right to speak as citizen.
He has a prophecy, a word from God. His words are shouted, not angrily, but matter of fact. They run together and become hard to distinguish. Eyes meet behind him, and some people smirk to each other. Other hide their mouths to cover a laugh.
I’ve done that, I admit.
His speech leaves no impression on the listeners. He just another eccentric with a pipeline to the divine, trying to save a soul or two before it’s too late.
Here’s my question: Is he a story?
I’m drawn to those eccentrics, as well as the wackadoos and the nutjobs and the down right freaky people. When I was a kid, they were the guys on a street corner screaming words that only made sense in their interior world.
If I could have, I would have listened all day, trying to suss out just what in the hell they were talking about. But my Mom or some other responsible adult would have been there to move me along.
Don’t stare, Scott. Isn’t polite.
I’ve made a life out of seeking them out. I was on a first name basis with all the Hare Krishnas and Moonies on my college campus. I love talking to the conspiracy theorist as much as I enjoy talking to anyone else. I have mementos from many of them — hand-printed internal monologues that make no sense, letters mailed to God that somehow wound up on my desk and angry screeds aimed at me or someone I know.
Back when I worked in Vail, I used to have weekly telephone conversations with a woman who regularly cursed me for living an ungodly life. She said it was wrong to live in anyway that wasn’t specifically spelled out in the Bible. It didn’t phase her at all when I pointed out that our very conversations were a sin. Jesus never spoke on a telephone, I said.
That just made her curse me more.
The Twin Cities are filled with eccentrics. I could make a regular beat out of following them, documenting their lives and their passions if I chose it. But I don’t know that anyone else would find them as fascinating.
That brings us up to the present man, and his incomprehensible, five minute monologue to City Councilors. He doesn’t seem to stop talking long enough to breath.
Finally, he finishes, raises his hands in a blessing gesture and tells the room ” I Love You.” And he leaves.
Don’t worry, he’ll be back next week.
Update: Check out this TV news report from Rhode Island. I’d like to believe I would’ve had a lot more fun with this lady. Frankly, I think the reporter should have grabbed a mask for himself and continued the interview.