11 Sep

I ask around if anyone knows this man: “He’s a pudgy guy; bald, but with longish hair in the back; wears polyester pants and white shirts; smokes a long cigarette and sips from a Diet Coke. Always sits outside by himself and, although he looks somewhat unapproachable, seems kind enough and gentle enough. He never says anything. Just sits there and smokes and stares into the abyss, then he goes back inside to his office.”
A few come back to me with shrugs and: “He’s just a weirdo. Never talks. Hasn’t said anything to anyone in the three years he’s worked here.”
I say: “there are two kinds of quiet people. Ones who have nothing to say. And ones who have a whole lot to say, but won’t say it.”
“Yea well, who knows anything? He just won’t talk to anyone.”
I finally catch word of his last name and run a quick search. What pops up is astounding. This little hobbit of an “insignificant” man has a Ph.D. in Political Science from Harvard. A Master’s in International Affairs from Cambridge. And a Bachelor’s in Journalism from Yale. He put in a few years at Brookings in D.C., then became European Bureau Chief for ABC News in Belgrade, during the war in the early 90s. While on a trek initiated at his request to cover a story about Milosevic, he was riding in a two-truck convoy when the machine up ahead received a direct mortar hit from the Serbs in the mountains. His entire crew, including three prominent journalists, were blown up instantly. His truck received small arms fire and an indirect hit from a RPG. The shrapnel from the rocket took out his interpreter sitting next to him. He was unharmed. In the several days after the incident, he suffered a complete breakdown and walked off the job. He resurfaced 11 years later in the States and took an entry-level job at the University at which I now work.
“Makes about twenny-eight grand a year,” says one of the boys when I ask him if he knows any more details about our man. “Got a Ph.D., ya know.”
I tell him I know.
“He’s weird, ya know. Just a weird, all-around kinda guy.”
I don’t say anything. It doesn’t warrant an answer.


3 Responses to “Lounce”

  1. slyboots2 11/09/2007 at 3:18 PM #

    This is particularly good character development- which I must say doesn’t usually get this detailed in your posts. I like it, as I feel like you as an author have sympathy and respect for him. At least that’s what comes across.

    I also like the dig about insignificance. It really resonates with me.

  2. Lx 11/09/2007 at 3:42 PM #

    it’s always the seemingly insignificant people who make a difference, or have a story worth pausing to hear.

  3. femme d'espoir 12/09/2007 at 8:00 PM #

    He’d be just the kind of person I’d love geting to know… if that were possible.

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