When I first saw this man, I thought what an amusing entry he would make on my journal.
Standing on the ferry, he spoke far to loudly into his phone, his one-sided argument spilling over into the crowd around him, as he leaned against the outside hull, a paper bag in one hand, the other holding that phone to his ear, and his voice... strident, sliding from strident to coaxing as he paced back and forth along the wall.
"You are my everything. My whole family knows about you and NO ONE IN YOUR FAMILY KNOWS ABOUT ME!! You have me in a closet. You are ASHAMED OF ME!!"
He went on and on, lacing the sentences with a variety of expletives. I stood by the door going out to the deck with a young woman...we exchanged glances and giggles. As the boat docked, he announced to his unknown to us love he would call them back, and my newly bonded friend and I strained to see who this voice belonged to, betting each other he would end up with the other one on the journey home.
There he was, pushing past everyone, anger personified. Tattoos covered his neck and arms, his pants in the low riding position favoured by younger men, dark jacket... his face looked like a blurred Michael J. Pollard, overlaid with bitterness.
We all moved from the boat, rushing to our connecting points, and...he stepped down the stairs to my train. My new found friend pointed at me and laughed.
I walked as quickly as possible to pass him and get into a car... he chose the same car.
Stray dogs and sad people tend to follow me.
Once settled, he flipped open the phone again, dialing the number, and picking up the conversation where he'd left off--again in that loud voice, the full vocabulary of expletives, only now...I could hear the pleading tone underlying it all.
He asked her to move from where ever she was so she could talk to him... If she couldn't hear him, just give him a few minutes, move to another room. Didn't he mean anything to her? Remember that night they went out in the City and had such a great time? He loved her, didn't that mean anything? Why did she hide him away from people, was she ashamed of him? He knew he didn't deserve her, but, he'd do whatever he could to make her feel proud.
The battery in his phone was dying, he said... he'd call her again from his house. "Why not? Are you dumping me? But...."
Everyone around was focused on newspapers, the night outside the windows, the floor. All while we listened to his life fall apart in such a public place.
My stop was called, I stood up opposite him, as he opened the bottle in the paper bag and started to drink from it... I didn't know where to look.
Days later, writing about this as amusing--his mannerisms, the wild phone call, the drinking from the paper bag--is eclipsed by the memory of his face, as he understood he wasn't good enough.
Empathy will change your perspective on how you decide to write a story.
Our Neville Fact:
This weekend, due to the high demand* for Neville and Margaret information, there will be an entire post to catch you up.
*okay, one person...still.