Excerpt from Part One; the Gentleman:
It was three a.m. when the young man left his apartment and walked leisurely down the street. A homeless man stood at the corner, waving his arms about and shaking his head as if in the attempt to conduct an orchestra. He screamed unintelligible curses at the imaginary musicians. He smelled of urine and stood beside a grocery cart of assorted garbage, each article, no doubt, with some meaning to his demented mind. The young man walked past trying not to laugh, or cry.
Two months earlier, on a similar walk, he had found the man in the same peculiar pose. He had approached and offered to bring him some food. The homeless man had continued to yell and then turned to look the young man directly in the eyes. The look was vacant, as if this man’s reason had deserted him and left him entirely without connection to humanity. For a moment they stood looking at each other before the homeless man returned to his irreverent cursing. The young man had taken five dollars from his pocket and held it out. A second time their eyes met, but gone was the vacant look and in its place was rage. Before the young man could step back, the homeless man pounced at him, but he missed and the young man had backed cautiously away. The lunatic did not follow.
This time the young man did not approach the homeless man, glancing only once behind before he rounded the block. He took a deep breath and watched the cloud arise and dissipate as he slowly exhaled. He considered the homeless man for a moment but did not know what to make of him. No matter how he tried, he could not conceptualize what it must be like to live in such a mind. More he wondered what such an individual felt and how, if at all, he interacted in the real world. This man, as with so much else when he took time to truly consider, did not make sense.
He found himself overlooking the sea; its waves glittering in the moonlight. His gaze turned upward; the white moon. It was almost full. The last time he had looked, it had been a sliver. He tried to remember how many days it had been but failed. He did not even know what day it was. He rarely did anymore, but what reason did he have to keep track of such a thing? He smiled at the thought. It had been that way for at least six months, since he quit his last job and moved into the plain apartment he now resided in. It had been hard working the past few years, but now that he was free, hopefully forever, from the need to work, he realized it could have been much worse. He was only twenty-seven after all. Yes, if he had realized earlier what was important to him, he might have found freedom at twenty-two, but in those five years, he had learned greatly about both life and himself. Yes, he had much yet to learn, but now he was free to pursue that knowledge as he desired.
A sharp wind broke his thoughts, and he turned toward his apartment. He was beginning to feel drowsy. A car drove by. The driver seemed to look at him with disdain. The young man smiled. He smiled often; at himself, at others, at life. Simply, he enjoyed living.
A distant church bell struck four. He did not even count the tones. He was remembering a time he walked in streets half a world away, listening to a thousand conversations he could not understand. Those streets, however, were likewise silent in the darkest night, perhaps more so. He looked at the life around him. A few lights were on. A restaurant; a few people inside. A laundromat; empty. A gym; two, three, people ran on treadmills, while one more stood with a weight belt, drinking a bottle of water. The office buildings were bare, except for in one window a few silhouettes moved slowly, as if they had been working the entire night. Another car drove through the emptiness. A morning fog was beginning to set in. Somewhere, far off, a siren briefly sounded. All these were normal. Then a strange murmur, as of delirium. The young man looked about a moment before the sound repeated.