“It’s true, you know.”
I had to look over to see old man sitting down from me, bouncing with the rest of us as the subway we were on flew over uneven ground. Still uncertain I was the one he was addressing, I buried my chin back into my coat and kept reading from my phone.
“Back in th’ day, people were happier. Things were simpler. We don’t know no better, so we was always satisfied with what we had.” The old man continued, his grisly beard unkempt to the point where he had to have sat there and pulled it in all different directions, splaying it out like one of those old timey hand fans. His dark green army jacket came just short of having “salvation army” written across it, and his tattered boots didn’t seem to mind the fact that they did only half their job, allowing the old timer’s feet (bare, of course) to poke through the material in random spots. I let myself listen, but I didn’t want to give him my attention.
“Look at people now. Got them queers and coloreds running around like they ain’t even ashamed. For 200 years, people knew their place. Grew up on a farm? Boy, you best be a’spectin’ to be dyin’ on that there farm. Come from the uneducated? Boy, you best be stayin dumb like yo’ pappy. Nowadays, all these fools comin’ from nothing walkin’ round actin’ like they deserve sumtin’. Ain’t no way t’ live.” His gaze was now firmly locked in my direction, and I could feel his eyes poring over me, waiting for a reaction. I gave him none.
“Lookee here even. Got yourself a fifteen minute ride to get ya where ya goin’, and ya still feel tha need t’ shove yer face in yer technology! Hmph. Buncha cracked out youth, needin that fix anymores. Can’t sit still for fifteen minutes. Gotsta be entertained. Shameful!” My eyes raised alongside my eyebrow as I brought my full attention to him. There was no mistaking it, old man was looking right at me as he had said these last words, and now threw a nod in my direction.
“Everyone ask what wrong with t’ world these days, I say it ain’t the world. It the poor excuse for people sittin’ in it!” He jabbed a finger at me while he said this. Was it too much to have an uneventful ride home on a Monday? Christ. I sighed, and set my phone on my lap.
“Well excuse me, Mr —” I started.
“The name is Timmons, boy.”
“Okay then, Mr. Timmons. Has it ever occurred to you that these “poor excuses” of people would perhaps just appreciate some time to themselves without being badgered by riff raff around them?”
These words obviously soured Timmons’ mood. “RIFF RAFF?” He jumped up from his seat a few rows down, moving with a quickness I wouldn’t have thought to expect. He barreled through the people standing in the center aisle, and seated himself directly in front of my, now fully alert, self. His eyes were alight, almost dancing side to side as he bore his gaze into me. “Easy boy, I ain’t seekin’ to gut ya.” He said, noticing my lightning quick ‘curl into the fetal position’ defensive move. He continued, “Although I should. Riff raff. If you had any idea about who I am or what I’ve seen…”
My back still pressed firmly into my seat, fingers clenched around my phone (my only possible weapon at that time), I looked from Timmons to the other passengers, and back again. Despite his outburst and subsequent bulldozer impression, the other passengers didn’t seem to take any notice of Timmons.
Seeing as how no one else was alarmed, I allowed myself to relax a bit. “Okay, so, uhm, how can I help you?”
Timmons smiled widely at this. “Help me? Ha! I’m here to help you, boy. Truth is, you’re needing more help than even I can provide. S’why I haven’t been the only one sent to cross paths with you.”
I accepted the fact that I had no idea what he was talking about, as I seriously doubted he was going to make any sense whatsoever. “So, your way of helping me is by spouting some bigotry and social commentary? Not really sure how that’s going to be helping me out.” Timmons leaned back in his seat, letting loose a heavy sigh. There was something oddly familiar about his demeanor. I was having trouble placing it, but his words were dancing around in my brain, probing for a reaction.
“Too much, you don’t understand.” His words were becoming less and less garbled behind the mess of facial hair as time went on. “You’ll find my observations of the world and the filth it possesses of much importance later on. Now, I ain’t aiming to sit here and blow smoke up your poop hole and claim you much of anything. Nah. We’d be foolish to throw all our eggs in your dense basket.” He leaned forward and tapped my skull at the mention of this. “This is all you need understand for now. Much is at play, and you have a part. Whether or not it comes to any sort of meaningful consequence depends solely on you.”
I wrinkled my brow at this. Was this mangy riff raff seriously convinced I had business with him? “You’ll be wanting this,” he shoved a piece of paper into my hand, “and just one piece of advice.” I glanced up from my new possession as he stood and placed a hand on my shoulder. “Quit antagonizing us. The next one you meet might not be as willing to put up with your shit as me and your friend at the bar.”
That’s when it hit me. This Timmons reminded me of the old crazy I had met back at Liquids! Same gradual transition from batshit crazy to frustratingly cryptic. The subway came to a sudden jolt, and I was just able to catch a glimpse of Timmons as he faded into the cluster of people.
“Hey, wait!” I cried after him, but the flow of the crowd pushed me back into me seat. I was left only with more questions than I even knew what to do with. That, and this piece of paper. Returning my attention to what I literally had on hand, I slowly folded open the greasy note. Inside was an address and a time. It read:
2 Sesame Street Way Blvd
1 AM Someday. Just not today.
Oh come on. Street way boulevard? I’ve heard better fake information from the prank caller that keeps tormenting Jordan at Radioshack. At least that guy bothered to give an address that could be plausible, like 69 Sex Drive. Chuckling to myself at the prankster’s ingenuity, I turned to shove the paper into my pocket when I noticed more writing on the back. I turned it over, and scoffed at what I read.
P.S. I rubbed my balls on this note. That’s what you get for upsetting Simmons. You know he’s sensitive about his girlfriend.
I dropped the paper into my pocket, and reminded myself to find a pair of tweezers with which to handle this thing now. So, the guy at the bar was Simmons, and this subway dude was Timmons? Whoever they were, I could tell I wasn’t exactly dealing with the most mature of clairvoyant bums. Wiping my hands on my pants, I couldn’t help but think who I was going to run into next. Climmons? Fibbons? Dr Suess himself?
I sighed and placed my headphones back on. I seriously disliked Mondays.