11 January 2009

Vol. 0, Issue 16 | No Better

[originally written 13 April 2005, 12:04pm]

For those who live here, you're aware that we have many, many wandering homeless folk in the city. Some of whom are, to put it delicately, in need of a mental health practitioner. By in large, it's this percentage of the homeless that approaches me. Not for a handout, but for actual conversation. As though they can actually detect that some part of my psyche allows me to comprehend what they want to impart.

Case in point...

I'm awaiting the train last night. I see an older man, bearded, looking much like Robin Williams in The Fisher King, wandering through the crowd of other people waiting for the train. He stops in front of me, smiling, head cocked to the side. Looking at me... into me. He doesn't want anything from me. But he does want to tell me something...

"No good. No good they say. Say I'm no good. No good!" Still smiling, but pained. He steps closer. "Don't harm no one. Don't harm no one. But I'm no good. No good! No good! Why? Why'm I no good? Don't hurt nobody. No good? Why no good. Who are you? Who are you to say? You say I'm no good, but who are you?"

"No better." I respond, thinking yet not thinking. His face, crinkled from age, wear & pain, relaxes. Eyes widen. His smile become a gape. And then he's beaming at me.

"Yes... yes, yes. No better. Yes." Laughing, he extends his hand, clenched. We touch fists, and then both board the train. He sits quietly through the entire ride, peaceful. Blissful of finding an answer he didn't expect. And I? I contemplated my reminder from the universe that I'm no better than the rest, whether they be kings or peasants.

No better.

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