There’s a guy on the scene that we call Book Reading Guy. He got that name because, well, for years and years he sat under the awning of the People’s Park bathroom reading paperback novels all day long. And I mean ALL day long. He would show up early in the morning and start reading away. And he wouldn’t stop reading until 10 o’clock curfew at night when we all got kicked out of the Park. Then he’d walk a couple blocks to a doorway on Tele and Dwight where he crashed. Wake up in the morning. And start the whole thing all over again. Every day. Rain or shine. For at least the last 5 years.
After awhile you barely even noticed Book Reading Guy. It was like he was just part of the scenery. “There’s a tree. There’s a bench. There’s a rock. And there’s Book Reading Guy.”
He was an older black man. Probably in his late 50s. To call him mild-mannered and subdued would be an understatement. He never talked to anybody. Never made eye contact. Never put out any vibes. Just sat there quietly with his face buried in his book.
The only time I ever saw him get up from his chair was when some free food hit the Park. He’d jump up and get his share. And then go right back to his reading.
For all I knew he was practicing a form of meditation — withdrawing from the outer world into the inner world of his imagination. He had made a peculiar adjustment, but it allowed him to exist and function in his own little niche. . . On the other hand, it seemed like a pretty severe and limited existence. But who knows.
Everybody was shocked. This guy who never did ANYTHING. And then all of a sudden, completely out of the blue, he does something like THAT.
Last I heard, Book Reading Guy survived. After he was released from the hospital they took him to John George — the local nut house. I guess to try and figure out what to do with him next.
Course I’m a little peculiar myself.