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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Writer's Journal (exercise): Who Is That Man?

(Imagine a person, and watch him walk along a street.)

Who is that old fellow there? I watch from the Balcony Café as I sip my long black, lazily observing the passers-by. Something about this bloke intrigues me. He shuffles slowly, so I have time to watch him a while. As well as being bent and slow, his gait tells me he is angry. Yes, he shuffles, yet his legs move in a jerky kind of way. And his back, bent as it is, is held rigid. It is his arms which give away the most. The fists are clenched, and I don’t think it’s from arthritis. As he gets closer, I see that his lips are moving silently and his forehead is creased in a frown. I wonder what he is muttering to himself, but there is no sound coming from those moving lips. However they are very busy, as if he is almost spitting the silent words.

He is lost in his own world of rage, I think. It’s a wonder he doesn't collide with someone or trip over the pavement, but he doesn’t. He seems to have enough awareness of his surroundings to avoid that. In fact he has a sort of purposeful air, with that energy that anger can sometimes give. Shuffling angrily and purposefully, what a contradiction. But he is walking in a very straight line. I realise that the reason he collides with no-one is that people are getting out of his way, giving him nervous looks as they navigate around him. He is not seeing them, or not with any great attention, as far as I can tell. Those fists are flexing, and his frown is ferocious. I wouldn’t like to be whoever he is going to meet. If he was a young man, I’d say he’d be on his way to beat someone up. As it is, maybe he is going to tell someone off. Or maybe he is already telling them, in his silent monologue, the things he can’t say to their face.

I wonder if he has dementia. Most of us don’t display our emotions so overtly on the street. Maybe he is a bit deranged. He is right below me now and I can see that his shoulders are twitching, in an apparently involuntary tic. Poor fellow! He must be very, very upset about something. Does he live alone? Has he got anyone to take care of him? Now that I look closer still, I see that his clothes are rather unkempt, don’t look as if they have been washed or mended in quite some time. But if he is alone in the world, if he is deranged, what is he doing wandering this street in such a rage? Has he escaped from a care facility? Or does he live with family?

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