I saw him again today, but not before I smelled him. (If you’re wondering who “he” is, read the first post.)
Perhaps not so strangely, it was after the same job, a month later, that I spied my comically round gypsy for the second time. Initially I was sitting on the back of the tram but after an old lady got on I found myself in the middle. My nose which was stuck in Shantaram (my traveling companion for the last month) was soon distracted by the first twinge of urine wafting lightly through the car. I ignored it: don’t ask, don’t tell and certainly don’t look to closely. You may not like what you find.
Yet, as denial is apt to, it soon proved ineffective. A few stops before mine I finished my chapter and moved to stand at the front of the train. When I got there and looked back, I saw him. The homeless gypsy who, on a day more inspired, waved his genitals at me. He was all tuckered out and snoring gently as he stretched across two seats: jacket strewn on the floor beneath him. His dark, plump cheeks were covered with something between stubble and a beard. He was in the same sweater as a month ago, his belly still bulging aggressively. His bulbous lips moving slightly as he snoozed as peacefully as a clam in kelp. His odor wasn’t as pungent as I remembered but there’s no escaping the helpless smell of poverty.
Once I recognized his presence I started seeing other passengers take notice. One gentleman entered the car and grabbed the handle bar next to the gypsy’s seats. I watched… one… two… as his nose twitched… three… as his eyes darted… four… as he saw the source… five… as he checked who saw his mistake. Another girl made a move to occupy the adjacent seat before a ripple in her face slowed her down and set her moving backwards.
When I hopped off the tram he hadn’t budged an inch, nor had anyone attempted to move him. I miss that rasping voice though, and the crude displays of scorn. Strangely, I seem to be growing fond of this character. There is something of a child’s innocence in how completely he seems to have let go of society.