what’s in the box

I shouldn’t put any nickels in this idea but I’ve noticed that there are two homeless dudes in my area who talk to themselves, look very stern and worried, and who sometimes paw at the air or recoil from some unseen thing. And I’m thinking that they might be afflicted with the same kinda mental illness mainly because, apart from these few weird things, they’re always carrying around what seem like tokens of something.

One of them, small and skinny and stern, carries around two toys (of sorts): a Playstation 3 remote, which he does actually hold in the proper two-handed way, and then he’s got this big orange-and-gray Nerf pistol that he only ever carries pinched between his arm and his ribs. Kinda the way it’d be perched in a shoulder holster, now that I think about it. Recently, while walking to Pasion, he ran past me, underneath I-95, heading in the same direction but…he was in the street, not the sidewalk. And he was sprinting. But it was like a militaristic sprint: straightbacked, knees-to chest, arms pumping in a methodic chop-chop way. The Nerf pistol there against his ribs.

Does he imagine he’s training for some kind of combat?

The other one though is somebody I’ve written about before: in the past I’ve seen him carrying around (1) the sort of political sign that you stab into the ground of your front lawn, (2) a black keyboard with a USB cable that trailed along the ground behind him like the tail of a skinny dead thing, and (3), most recently, a cigar box. It’s cube-shaped and looks actually very nice. He carries this with more care than the other things. He holds it they way that Pinhead in Hellraiser holds Pandora’s Box. He just kinda holds it up at rib-level and sermonizes into the air, making august gestures with his other hand.

The reason I’m writing this all up is because I saw that latter guy on my way to Pasion this morning, he was in the McDonald’s parking lot, the box held aloft as if to ward something away, and I wondered, for a second, What if there’s actually something in there?

What’s he carrying around in there and what if it were some kinda serious magic shit?

More interesting: what does he think he’s carrying in there? Maybe it’s some shapeless unnameable like the thing in the briefcase in Pulp Fiction. It also brings this to mind: Tom Waits’s amazing performance of “What’s He Building in There?”

Anyway. Back to work.

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