A Beggars Dis-Belief
6pm, on a Tuesday. Catching up with a friend in Soho, approached approximately 3 times per minute by those in need of things we had. The weight of these numbers meant declining became necessary. We were polite, however exhausting and disruptive it was, and I felt horrid that I felt that way.
One man, this man, I gave a cigarette to, for I had just rolled it and it seemed a friendly thing to do. He then told us he’d just lost his money in the betting shop. I sighed, passed him a light and continued with my conversation.
20 minutes later he returned, unaware he’d already been. My friend politely refused his advances, because this time he hadn’t asked, he’d demanded, with much invasion of her personal space. He called us both something, nonsense ill words, and left.
A while passed, he returned, more aggressive, frighteningly so actually, and demanded I give him another cigarette. I reminded him I’d already given him a cigarette and he should better approach people with a smile. For a moment he remembered – like a child caught out, or a fragment of a night lost to drink, unfolding days later, like horrors lost in mind – either of a time when he could smile, or that he had already approached us.
Whatever the thought, it proved too much, and illness tore into him, and onto me great threats bled.
I made a decision to stand my ground, and continued to remain politely defiant, and as best I could entirely non responsive. Of all he may have been, could have been, and whatever reason for it, he was nothing but a awful cunt now – a dangerous beast, a bullish sub-human. My silent protest and gentle words of discouragement only turned his mood further, as if no one had ever said ‘No’, or perhaps too many, and I had tipped the balance.
He became physical, and I was forced to stand for safety sake, as he threw two empty chairs across the street. Our eyes met level, though his large frame topped me, and pointed to a painful future. I continued to swallow his words, stonier now, ready like my fighting friends had told me how. Legs to shoulders width, slight bend, arms casually on alert. I returned each spitting threat with a dead stare and silence.
He continued to rage. I told myself – stay upright, because this man was a grappler, a biter, a heaving mad beast – DO NOT GO DOWN.
At this point onlooking doormen from 2 different clubs appeared, barked ‘Get inside’. Had I broke with his eye I would have gotten knocked for sure, so I ignored them. They ordered me again, perhaps three times. I didn’t, because I couldn’t. Stubborn fear had frozen me senseless.
Suddenly, for no apparent reason, the beast subsided. The doorman, with uncharacteristic kindness saw him off up the road. His lion roar echoed. I needed whiskey and rough sex.