An Invisible Man
You walk past, nose in the air like you are so much better than me. If I step into your path, you change direction without even blinking. I know you see me but you refuse to acknowledge me. If I put out my hand, you react like it is some discorporate thing floating in front of you. You might think living as I do is death. But I’m not a ghost. I am real.
Under the dirt on my skin, under the second, third, fourth-hand clothes, under the shoes too large on my feet and the jacket too small on my back, I’m the same as you, but for a twist of fate or a twitch in my brain.
I breathe the same air. I hear the same birds. I look to the same church when the bells toll the hours. I avoid the same traffic, drink the same water, enjoy the same sun, shelter from the same rain and pray to the same God. I could go on listing the similarities, if you could be arsed listening.
I know if I tried to talk to you, tried to open up and show you how similar we really are, you’d call the police to have me locked up, citing me as hopeless, hapless, horrendous and haggard. But the only difference between you and I now is I no longer have the worries you do. I have more base concerns like food and shelter, like finding a safe place to sleep or a place private enough for my ablutions.
If, for some reason, you do see me, it is my eyes you notice. I know what you think when you see them too. You think “those are the eyes of a man who has lost all hope, a man who has lost everything of value in this world”. If I could say anything to you, I would say you’re wrong. I see things as they clearly are, not shadowed by modern concerns, jaded by modern devices and pained from modern life. I see more clearly than I ever did.
I can see past the pain of my empty, lonely childhood. I can see past the pain of a life you call ruined, the pain of a career I had and lost, the pain of losing the love in my heart for the love in a bottle, the pain of losing my suburban security and the closed-door, double-bolted, barred-window living you call safe and relaxed. I can see past all this, over your shoulder to what is following you.
I can see it clearly. It is right there behind you. But unlike me, you are too far gone to even notice. But if you do notice one day, if your vision is cleared, even for merest moments, I know exactly what you’ll do. Unlike the myriad choices modern life provides, the choices you have are very few. And if you make the same choice as I, then we’ll really be able to talk.
Yeah, then you’ll really want to know me. Oh, the things I could tell you, if you would only stop and listen.