Black Trench Coat in the Middle of Summer (and Various Shiny Things)

1. Summer (Nondescript Day) Further Along Granville Street.
Man in a black trench coat
walks past me
            in the middle of summer
when I am pissed off and tired,
the heat and the yellow air
unsure why I’m there.

He’s wearing dirty Chuck Taylors
That’s all I can see.
            Long matted hair, wet,
face stoic.
                                                Drug dealer           

I couldn’t tell his age (I don’t judge shoes).                                               One of those people.                       
Then he sits on the bench.
I walk slow.

He stares at the wall for a long minute
hands in his pockets stretching
black coat taut,
I walk slow.

He lights a cigarette
and I must pass
breath held, wondering
I remember strangers’ faces. Who is this. Who is this. I remember everybody. Who is this.

He is expressionless. No thoughts twitch about his eyelashes. He just exists.   

2. Some Weekday (Early Fall)
I was sick, sniffling, going about contrived ex-girlfriend business buying J. happy things (not an Orchid) because he’s out of rehab now. (Welcome back into the world, etc.) There are buses on Granville now. Many buses

I sort of
saw him
a black dot in the concave tension
of a sideways glance.

3. Megabite Pizza (Thursday After School)
Mushrooms. Oh my god I’m so hungry. I haven’t cooked. Cheese.

I barely turned to the window, and he’s running his fingers through his hair, slouched on the bench opposite Empire 7 theatres where the West Coast punks try to look like punks after they leave home. But he’s not with them. Nobody notices him. Or his coat. It’s still 27 degrees yellow.

New shoes. They’re extremely white. The fur border on his hood is half ripped and more black than the rest of his coat. His hair is wet. And there is something shiny flickering behind his hair, wet. A phone? What? What is that.

He gets up
then glossolalia with a smile to the buses.
Crosses the street. In a minute walks past me. 
                                    What is

It’s a yo-yo.
A yo-yo.
Wrapped around his ear. And a studded belt around his waist. That’s new. He’s so skinny.

4. (Saturday Morning) Post-Sleepover then Shopping in Accordance with Friend M.’s wishes
In the bed I tell Friend M. my sightings of the man in the black coat. He says he’s weird and I’m weird. I say the regular you’re my best friend, my salmon arm, just listen. Laugh. And we forget I forget, because we’re so hungry. Toast. Oranges.

Falafel smell Granville, shopping, bus dodging.
“That’s him! That’s him.”
“I thought he’d be super hot, like Johnny Depp or something.”
“I didn’t say anything about his hotness. Isn’t he fascinating? Look at him, just look at him. Let’s follow him!”
            “You have a fucking crush on the hobo!”
“He isn’t a hobo. He’s just lost. No crush.”

We walk up and down Granville. For 15 minutes. Then he turns a corner. Eats a crisp that came out of nowhere. A clean, concave Pringle. One twitching chomp.

5. I forgot what store we walked out of (                  )
                        “Ma’am can you spare any change?”
I could feel my eyes dilate as I looked down.
(I was so angry I heard him speak. I was so angry I heard him and his high pitched voice at all.)
His eyes widen too and he retreats a little against the wall, smiling and giggling in surprised red cheekbones. Eyes a bright pale green, he was vulnerable and childish all at once in that moment. Nothing black coated about it.

- Shazia Hafiz Ramji