It's a record-setting heat, a dazed heat, 103 degree high temperature and I'm standing in Barracks Row smoking a cigarette. An old white man is staggering down the street and having trouble. He's disheveled, dirty shirttail out and weird plaid shorts; he has the gleam of the schizophrenic. I've seen it too many times. Full moon eyes hiding terrified under cardboard. He stops nearby and something in me shrinks, but he's not looking at me. Instead he's gazing at a point in space, empty air and he raises a finger and points at it. "I remember you," he says to the ghost. "You were wonderful."
The man walks on, for all the world like Karloff in Frankenstein boots.
Like I said, it's too hot. Too hot for a city, at least. A man needs trees to breathe, some organic shade to unwind under.
I'm taking a fifteen minute break from my second job -- calling strangers on the phone asking for money for a local theatre. When the summer is over, I'm getting out of this town and I work two jobs to save up the cash. Eight hours of pointless, repetitive drudgery and four hours on the phone. I am savoring this cigarette, heat or no heat.
This heavy, fine-tuned exhaustion brings me just close enough to a particular edge of crazy. This old man speaks to thin air and while my soul may shrink from it, for a brilliant second, I am him. I'm standing out of the sun, in the shade of a building and have about three more minutes before I go back inside and start back on the phones.
My friends, in case you ever wonder, I remember you. I may as well be talking to myself. You were wonderful.