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Encounters with crazy people - Queue
February 26th, 2004
07:24 am

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Encounters with crazy people
Tuesday evening, waiting for the bus in Inman Square, I saw a man at a pay phone right by the bus stop. It took me a while to figure out what he was doing. Here was the pattern:

Pick up the phone.
Dial three numbers (I'm pretty sure it was 911, but I couldn't see).
Wait a few seconds.
Say "Entrapment!" loudly (This switched over to "Encroachment!" at one point).
Inhale, raising the shoulders. Audibly exhale, lowering the shoulders.
Say something short in a normal voice (This varied a lot. "Jack Williams." "Dave." "Allman Brothers Band." There were some others that I forget).
Hang up the phone.
Wait 10-15 sconds.
Repeat.

And he was doing this the entire time I was waiting for the bus, maybe 5-10 minutes. I briefly considered asking him what he was doing, and then I briefly considered what getting a knife in the gut would feel like. I decided to play it safe. But I didn't feel afraid just being around him.

This morning. *shudder* I was asleep by 9 last night, in to work by 7. I head to the bathroom as soon as I turn my computer on and check my email. The lights are on their low level. I am revelling in the fact that I'm the first person to use the bathroom in the morning. I don't bother turning the full lights on. I'm there for maybe a minute or two when the door opens and someone comes in. I make a little noise, sniffing my nose. I don't know if women do this, but I think it's a common thing for men to make a little noise when they're in a stall and another man comes into the bathroom. I guess we just consider it a courtesy to let people know they're not alone in there. Anyway, I made the noise. I don't hear him walk over to the urinals, but I do hear a zipper that doesn't sound like pants (I later discover that it's a zipper on a satchel). The he starts talking to himself. "Wallet. Comb. Watch. Card. Change." Uh-oh. Sounds like he didn't hear my noise. And then he starts giving himself a little pep talk. Like, "You went in there today and fixed that. You were successful. Successful. It was a success." I thought at first that he was on a cell phone, but then it became clear he was just talking to himself. Then he's quiet for a while, and I hear individual coins being rattled, like he's counting his change.

At this point, I don't want to make any more noise. He obviously thinks he's alone in there. And he's takling to himself in the bathroom. Now, I'm not normally in the bathroom when other people are in there alone, so, for all I know, it could be a perfectly normal thing to talk to oneself when one is alone in the bathroom. But I don't consider that possibility. As time goes on, I get more and more scared. I have a Tim Powers book with me, so I try to continue reading it. Of course, I can't help but think of Tim Powers's speech at Arisia, where he talks about being freaked out about stuff. And, yeah, I'm pretty freaked. At some point, the guy starts saying more stuff, but he mumbles it, so I can't pick up much. I think I hear "Jeffrey died in an accident." !!! Is this guy pissed off at someone named Jeffrey (there is a Jeffrey that works here, who deals with computer stuff, and I know that there are people who work in the server room here who leave before most people get in to work) and having a revenge fantasy? Oh shit. Now I really can't make any noise. I make a noise, and he kills me right there.

Then I get a bit more rational. He wouldn't kill me right there. He'd follow me out of the bathroom, note where my cubicle is, and then find some way to murder me later.

He cotinues counting his change. This goes on for a while. Finally, I decide that I can't just stay there forever. And, eventually, other people will come in, and then I'll be safe. He mumbles some more and then continues counting his change. I decide that I can't go directly back to my cubicle, which is right by the bathroom door. I'll just wander over to check my mail slot (which never has anything in it) and generally just wander around until he leaves.

So I make some noise with the toilet paper and finish up. I hear the zipper again (him closing his bag). I stand up, flush. I hear him washing his hands. I go and wash my hands. There are two sinks. He's at one of them, but his bag is right next to the other, so I have to wash my hands in between him and his bag. I grab for the paper towels, but they're not in correctly, which happens about 25% of the time. He's waiting to get a paper towel as I scramble to get one. I eventually grab about 6 of them. As I'm drying my hands with them, he pauses and turns to look at me. He could be grabbing a paper towel RIGHT NOW, but he's LOOKING AT ME instead. I very carefully try to look calm and happy, but I can't face looking at him.

I scoot out of there and drop my book off at my cubicle (I have just enough time to do that, since he's still drying his hands) and head to the mail slots, out of sight of the path from the bathroom to the elevators. I wander a bit until I hear the bathroom door open, then hear the door to the elevators close. I am still a bit indecisive about the path I want to take back to my cubicle. It takes me a bit to actually get back here.

And as I've been typing this, I've heard people walk behind me, some going to the bathroom, some not. I'm sure the guy has already left, but I've hidden this window every time I hear someone, in case it's him and he sees the subject line of this post.

(13 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments
 
[User Picture]
From:magid
Date:February 26th, 2004 05:02 am (UTC)

Q point

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takling
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From:treacle_well
Date:February 26th, 2004 05:32 am (UTC)
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Ooh. Sounds like a story [and you wasted it on LJ :-)]. Felt like writing something lately?
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From:queue
Date:February 26th, 2004 05:39 am (UTC)
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I have actually been itching to write something. For whatever reason, thought, I'm afraid to write. (Well, okay, I know the reasons, but I don't feel like getting into them right now.)

It felt really, really, really good to write that up. Maybe I should adapt that into a story. Although anything having to do with crazy people is automatically going to turn into ghosts right now, given what I'm reading.
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From:farwing
Date:February 26th, 2004 07:29 am (UTC)
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wow. That is so scary, and realistic, but also unreal, and I did feel as if I were reading a story. You have a real knack for reporting the creepy. Please consider turning this into something longer.

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From:queue
Date:February 26th, 2004 07:32 am (UTC)
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Thanks.

Maybe I should start hanging out in creepy places so I can report strange things and masquerade them as fiction.
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From:treacle_well
Date:February 26th, 2004 08:39 am (UTC)
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Well, I really enjoyed reading it.
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From:queue
Date:February 26th, 2004 08:40 am (UTC)
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Thank you.
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From:hrafn
Date:February 26th, 2004 12:09 pm (UTC)
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Seconded. (And I'll second the idea to hang around in creepy places to get writing fodder - bring on the freaks!)
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From:bitty
Date:February 26th, 2004 06:32 am (UTC)

queue point

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cotinues
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From:zyxwvut
Date:February 26th, 2004 10:31 am (UTC)

Grammar queue point?

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Tuesday evening, waiting for the bus in Inman Square,


I think that's a dangling participle, is that what it's called?

Z

P.S.: In my defense, I just woke up.
[User Picture]
From:queue
Date:February 26th, 2004 10:45 am (UTC)

Re: Grammar queue point?

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I guess I normally think of dangling participles as incorrectly modifying the subject of the sentence. In this case, the subject of the sentence is "I", which is indeed the correct thing to modify.

I think I like it how it is, but I can see your point. Would it have looked better to you if I had not put in that first comma?
Tuesday evening waiting for the bus in Inman Square, I saw a man at a pay phone . . .

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From:zyxwvut
Date:February 26th, 2004 12:05 pm (UTC)

Re: Grammar queue point?

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It sort of looked to me (when I'd just woken up) like the
"waiting" clause modified "Tuesday Evening". I guess it's not
actually gramatically incorrect[*].

Z

P.S.: * -- although, stylistically, I'd have inserted the word
"while".
[User Picture]
From:spwebdesign
Date:February 27th, 2004 05:05 pm (UTC)

Queue Point

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"The he starts talking to himself."

Heck, I should get bonus queue points for noticing this over a day after you posted it, after everyone has had a chance to pore over it. <grin>
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