I could tell from the sound of him that he had The Look.
Usually it’s hard to tell what they really say, I’m sure he didn’t really scream “frappé” or “egg whites” but it doesn’t matter. I could just tell from the sound of him that he had it, the stare which was both vacant and intense, focussed on a thought you could see would cause him a lifetime of pain and anger. The look of being somewhere else. A scary look, one you try not to get caught observing too closely.
I went to the window, peered out through the curtains, past the locked front gate, and saw a solitary silhouette staggering away up the road towards the pub. I could hear the word “fuck” and its variants a lot, standing out among other words I couldn’t make out as they faded away.
They always pick me when I’m out. The person who might understand them, the person to whom they should explain, or ask to explain to them, something they have now decided is happening. The person who might give them money for a phone call or cigarettes or alcohol, who offers no threat because I’m passive looking, the person who might not judge them badly because I look like a hippy. The person who might be a soft touch because I guess I must look like one.
There are some regulars with The Look that I see almost every day. Until recently I knew none of their names and so I gave them my own, which I would share with friends, who laughed. The Dwarf and Lurch were the most visible. I needn’t bother describing them, the names already do that.
One evening a friend and I were having a beer, alfresco, among a group of empty tables and chairs on the pavement between a pub and a busy intersection. The Dwarf staggered around the corner, spotted me and headed straight in my direction in his own peculiar swerving way. I was, as usual, smoking while gratuitously looking like a non-threatening hippy, so I saw it coming.
“Fuck off Milo!” came a female voice from behind me before he had time to speak. I looked at my friend Nat and knew at once that it hadn’t been her. She was laughing at something behind her. I looked further around and there, stopped at the side of the road was a police car with a young female officer leaning out of the passenger side window. She yelled, again, “Fuck OFF Milo!” as I stared at her, open mouthed and dropped of jaw. So now I know that The Dwarf is called Milo.
He asked me for a light, I gave him one. The lights went green and the police car drove off. Milo weaved away. Nat went inside for another round of beers. I walked three doors down the road and hid the glasses from the last round on my front lawn, came back and resumed my seated position before Nat returned. The perfect crime.