Grey haired and disheveled and wild he tells me how he can sell me pot on the right day if I "look him up".
Ryan (presumed spelling) is jokingly "self employed" on or about the corner of Duluth and St. Laurent; and he works his corner for ten dollars to get access to the Salvation Army shelter and a hot meal. He asks if I have any spare change while I fumble with my ipod earphones trying to stuff them into my pocket. I hope the change I have there doesn't make too much of a noise while I do.
I get the impression that fully erect he would be taller than me, but instead he stands hunched a half foot below my eye-line impassionately making his pitch with a cigarette dangling precariously from his mouth. He tells me how taking marijuana in a tea will defeat the normal paranoia the the drug seats me with; the excuse I use to refuse his offers to sell some to me. He tells me how he likes to drink some tea, "throw his guts up," and then take some Valium to go to bed.
I offer another negative to his offer to deal for me as I notice a burn scar on his face. I ask as innocently as I can think of how he has ended up in a tattered jacket, unkempt beard and a seemingly good natured state of homelessness.
"LSD" he says. "I got in a car and I killed a guy. I don't even remember it." He continues, "I've been guilt tripping ever since."
I stupidly tell him that he's not doing himself, or anyone else any good at the moment with the intent to suggest he move on. I instantly regret it. He doesn't seem to take it as an insult any more than I meant it to be one, though it was.
Curious about the US recession, the effects of which on the Canadian economy I haven't followed, I ask how "business" has been going.
"I was asking down there [Avenue des Pine and St. Laurent] and a guy took out a ten so I could stay at a shelter; some other guy just walked by and took it saying 'thanks' and walked off."
His English is smooth and clean, and he seems like someone I could hold a conversation in with.
I ask him if things are going worse for him lately and he stops for a second to think. "Yes, I think so." Then launches into another pitch about how he could use a meal from the shelter.
Ryan. He works St. Laurent near Duluth with a dirty face, wild hair and clever eyes. Ryan, a hunched man my dad's age killed a guy, and has been guilt tripping ever since.
I hope he spends the money on food and not beer. I hope he can find the other end of that "guy he killed" somewhere other then the bottom of a pint, or in the bottom of a toilet after a cup of a doped tea.
I think I'll order in; after all, it has been a rough night.