Loose wheel Thursday November 2, 2006, 0 comments

He is sitting, just over there at the edge of the fountain. Beside him is one of six bronze frogs, spitting water into the round pool behind his back. Who is he? Why does he catch the eye when any of the dozens of other people around the splashing fountain fade into the scenery?

He has a look about him, a slightly worn look. Fuzzy edges. He is handsome – maybe mid-thirties. He appears to be in good shape. The long-sleeved brown t-shirt is plain, as are the faded, threadbare jeans he’s wearing. The square is too wide, he is too far away, to ascertain the color of his eyes.

But his sunglasses, tucked up on top of his head are obviously expensive and easy to spot even from this distance, as are his shoes. Boots in fact, that are black and leather and very stylish without subscribing to any modern trend.

His whole look is timeless and classic. He is very intriguing.

But who is he? How did his jeans get so worn? Why expensive sunglasses, so incongruous with the rest of his outfit, but also so right? The questions are valid, but not the real question. These skirt around the real question, leaving it conspicuous in its loneliness. The real question is not who, or how, or even why. The real question is what.

What is he thinking, as he pulls a battered notebook from his battered bag and begins to write in it? What is he writing about, in his odd little book, with his back curved lazily and one foot dangling above the gum-stained pavement?

What is he thinking? He is too profoundly in thought to be thinking anything superficial. Every part of his presence in the square denies the superficial. He is almost out of touch with the rest of reality around him – a wheel spinning on the same axle as all the rest, but somehow not attached. Loose wheel, comes the thought, unbidden. The wheel of his life perhaps spins at the same speed as all the rest, but it spins because he wills it, not because he is attached to the universe the way everyone else is.

Does this man, who stands out so clearly in the square, have a name? Of course he must. It’s probably something unusual and interesting, with many levels and layers of meaning, just like him. A moment’s glance brings thoughts of mazes, of hidden passageways and complicated machinery. He is deep, and complex, possessed of a weight and inertia, this loose wheel.

Does he love? Does he cry? Most assuredly he does. How could someone so exquisitely vibrant not? How powerful, how deep and rich and harmonious would his love be? How wet his tears?

And now he tucks the notebook into into his faded green bag, and slings it up onto his shoulder as he stands. He moves with an easy grace, every movement as inevitable as water flowing downhill. He does not walk from the square so much as flow from it. Heads turn to follow him, people who hadn’t seen him before take notice.

He is compelling, and as he walks by the vibrance of the the square is somehow pulled along behind him, an invisible wake. And as he passes by, so closely, it becomes possible to answer just one question about him.

Grey. His eyes are grey.


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