The Crazy Ones

Stefani Wright

I was sitting there and he was talking but he wasn’t too close so I don’t think he could see I was sitting there so he kept on talking. There were plenty of others around in the park but he paid them no mind either and he was just talking while they were not watching but really they were watching because they were cautious. You had to be cautious. Especially around people like him, that’s what they say. He wore t-shirt over t-shirt over sweater over maybe something else over some dirty skin and nails that grew and grew like his hair too long all over. And the dirt on his face that may have been dried mud or dried blood or dried food or just his coloring right there in that spot. And his shoes weren’t shoes but pieces of bottoms of shoes with duct tape around them and I don’t even think he walks in them ever, just shuffles. Shuffling and talking. Talking and shuffling. Shuffling while talking. Shuffled talk. But he was one of the crazy ones, one of the good for nothing he had it coming don’t do nothing ones. You can tell by the t-shirt over t-shirt, hair on hair on dried skin or blood or food or mud with shoes that aren’t really shoes and how he shuffles and talks. One of the crazy ones. Right?

He was talking while I was sitting and the birds and the bees were buzzing and chirping and the kids were yelling and screaming and laughing and playing and the trees were green as greens and they were as tall as they were yesterday when I was here and it’s always the same except he isn’t here. It was a bit cloudy yesterday and so there weren’t many people here which was all right and also I had brought bread for the birds only sourdough because they don’t like the wheat but today there was sun and today he was here and so the shuffling and talking makes the chirping and buzzing and the screaming and laughing sound louder as if they are all trying to make the shuffles stop and the talking into whispers but instead all the sounds get louder and begin to go back and forth and back and forth and back until it doesn’t sound like music at all, at least not the acceptable kind.

Miss Sue always walks by around the same time, while I’m feeding the birds and she’s walking her poodle. It was a mean little poodle, but Miss Sue never seemed to notice that it yapped and yapped at my face and at anyone that wasn’t Miss Sue. The poodle was old is what Miss Sue always told me and maybe her fur used to be as blonde and bright as her hair used to be but all I saw was the grey that napped and clumped together and jumped with all the yapping she did.

Miss Sue came by today because that’s what she always did and she stayed by me and said hello as she always does as the poodle dog yapped at me. I was still watching the man shuffling and talking while she kept saying hello dearie to me so I told her that I thought the man who kept walking and talking was probably a nice man. She looked at me with a weird face, like she ate something sour and couldn’t decide if she should swallow or spit and told me that I was a naïve child and that I was wrong and people like him were dangerous and so I asked her how did she know. Just look at him.

He shuffled and talked louder when he was near people but the people never looked at him. He raised his hand to talk about a bird in the tree and they would slither theirs in pockets and others would hold on to their purses to their bellies and some would even turn around as if they were scared he would see them. And if he did see them, that would be no good because it’s no good to be seen by someone you don’t want to see you and if they see that you see that they see you then they would want to make contact because that’s appropriate and polite and what you’re supposed to do but most don’t want to be seen, well they do, just not by the crazy ones. I wondered why it was so bad that he was just shuffling and talking and people didn’t like his shuffled talk because they started to slither and turn and pretend not to see and then leave.

Just look at him. That’s what Miss Sue told me but all I saw was that he liked to walk and talk to himself and maybe he had not many friends and he didn’t need to tan anymore because his skin was already so dark like a plum and I asked her if she thought maybe he was just super good at tanning, and she shook her head at me and said that that wasn’t what I should be worrying about and people like his kind, I should stay away, but I told her that I liked walking and talking too and so I wasn’t too different from him. She told me I was special and even though I wasn’t perfect, I was special and that I was someone who everyone loved to watch out for because I needed it. My issue wasn’t my fault, I was just born with it she says. But him, she shook her head again, and her poodle dog did too, he probably did it to himself, he probably deserved it, she says. People like them are always never working hard enough or putting themselves in bad places by doing bad things. I asked her what kind of bad things because from what I saw he walked and talked and there was nothing wrong with that. She shook her head again, picked up her poodle dog, patted me on the head and said she had to go and she’d see me tomorrow Sweetie Bee and she walked away in the same direction that she came, away from the man.

Most days I did this because I had nothing else to do. The people let me out everyday for air and I come to the park to feed the birds because if not me who else would feed the birds. They’re nice. I did for the birds just like the people did for me. They made sure I had all that I needed and ate everyday and took my dessert once a day and I like when they do that. The birds seemed not to mind at all when I come and they all seem to come back. Everyone one needs people like I needed people and like how the birds need me.

He starts to shuffle over toward my bench and I wondered what it was like to be invisible because then people don’t ever bother you and it’s great because sometimes I don’t want to be bothered but people bother me asking me how my day was and what I’m reading and remind me to not feed the pigeons because they’ll keep coming back too but this guy seems to have this invisibility thing down. He couldn’t be that crazy then could he? Not once had anyone said anything to him and I think that’s strange because people in this park are usually overly friendly and always want to talk and maybe I don’t want to tell you what I’m reading today because it’s the same as yesterday and still no one has asked him about anything or even tried to walk toward him. I didn’t have any food to feed the pigeons today anyway and he saw me see him and he shuffled and talked faster and faster until he was right next to me and so I touched him and said, “Hello.”


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