When I arrived in the neighborhood in 2008, I already noticed this man living above a convenience store. It is difficult to miss him because his window overlooks the exit of the subway. He seems to do only one thing, rocks himself while reading. I don’t know him a television, because I don’t see the entertainment gleams it would have produced in his apartment. A radio may be gutting its information or its nonsense.
The man is invariably dressed in the same way, in Marcel, summer, and winter. I’ve never seen him look out the window, don’t guess at him any trouble or idleness. In fact, I don’t know him at all, and I couldn’t recognize him if he were even standing at his door.
The feeling of pity is the first to express itself in me, but I tell myself that it is only one of the many projections we make to hide our unattractive realities. The man is, of course, lonely, perhaps a night watchman, as depicted in fiction, who waits only for his time to leave, because it is true that when I pass in front of his house, during the day, his window is silent.
A week ago, I spent three days in a row outside this window, just outside the subway. The man wasn’t there, it surprised me. I worried and immediately thought that he had died, that he had been dying for three years, that he was rocking quietly and that the shadow had finally reappeared in his life. Then I thought I was really too stupid. I don’t live on a regular schedule. My movements are random, except on Tuesday, choir night. So how could I believe that the worst had happened to this man of whom I know nothing, especially not the value of his life?
And then, the next day, there he was, cradling. I could feed my thoughts into the mill again.
All this could be a thin illusion. That man could be a poet, a scholar, a man who has chosen a simplicity if it is not voluntary, it is at the very least accepted. The risk of error is immense. All we have to do is ring his doorbell and ask him to tell us about his life. I probably care too much about the house of cards I built around him. Besides, that’s not the way people sound. They won’t answer you, and they will think you’re crazy or a thief.
To tell you the truth, I’m a madman. A nice guy who prefers to invent realities over people. It is as harmless a hobby as rocking at your window.