I made it across the Provencier walking bridge, and there I met Bobby. If you walk around that area often you may have even run into him a time or two. Bobby was busking with his guitar when our eyes met as I walked by and he asked me how I was doing. I said I was good and stopped to be courteous and ask how he was. So I did...
I had no knowledge that I would spend the next hour listening to the gruff older man tell stories of war, love, life, and death...
As I listened to him it became clear to me that Bobby had no money, no friends, and no one to listen to him... perhaps he was hoping I'd somehow quench all three?
I had no money on me at the time, and I tried to let him know that right off the bat...sometimes when you let these people know you have no money on you they become disinterested in you as you have nothing to offer them. Bobby seemed to be different, and this is how I know he must not have many (if anyone) who listen to him.
He kept telling me stories... His mind had unending tales to tell. I found out that his favorite artist was Gordon Lightfoot, and I think not that this is a coincidence,
"if you could read my mind, what tales my thoughts could tell..."
And oh what his mind told me...
He told me of past wives, three to be exact. The first was an "Indian" whom he was married to for 14 years. The second was a blond haired blue eyed "white girl" whom he was married to for 5 years, and ended up loosing everything but the cloths on his back and his guitar to. His current wife is Malaysian and he says that they don't fight. Although he isn't allowed in the house unless he "brings home the bacon," he said this to me as he looked into the empty guitar case and then added, "it's not looking good..."
He spoke, disturbingly, of "naam." He fought in the Vietnam war in the 60's. This made sense to me... He, to me, was a textbook war vet...I know that sounds bad, but he fit the part. He told me he killed a "couple" men. His eyes glazed over when he talked about it to me, and looked into thin air as if he could see their faces... The trauma was clearly deeper than I'd ever be able to know.
He said, "you don't wanna ever kill a man, because it'll end up killin' you..."
Bobby was dying inside it seemed. or dead already.
When is the time in those conversations when you leave... reality is that there is no good time. For Bobby, I was fulfilling a much longed for need...me leaving was stripping that away from him.
But I needed to leave, so I left Bobby on the cold concrete, hoping for another quarter, or another set of ears to listen to his stories.
I pray Lord, that you would comfort Bobby this night... God, comfort all the "bobbies" strewn over this city, and indeed, over this whole globe. So many hurting people... I pray that I was used in the work you were doing tonight.