An eerie “coincidence”

This is so bizarre it’s almost like a hallucination.

The other day I happened to be thinking about, and writing about, this 20 year old kid named Ortiz who was on the Telegraph scene back in 2002. This guy who was on the scene for a couple of months back then. Just a vague memory from the distant past that happened to pop into my head the other day. And I haven’t seen the guy since he disappeared from the scene nearly 20 years ago.

So just now, the next day, I’m sitting at a secluded spot on the Berkeley campus. Drinking my beer. And this guy approaches me. He’s standing in front of me asking me questions. But he’s talking so softly I can’t hear what he’s saying. Finally out of frustration — some stranger is bothering me while I’m trying to drink my beer — I shout: “I CANT HEAR YOU!! SPEAK LOUDER!!”

He says “Fuck you. Push for a cigarette.”

I immediate recognize that as a catch-phrase from the old Hate Camp days. So he’s obviously somebody who knows me from way back when.. I take a closer look. I almost can’t believe it. That it’s him. Suddenly and inexplicably materializing in front of me nearly 20 years later.

“Are you Ortiz?” I said.

“Yes I am,” he said.

“Wow that’s unbelievable,” I said. “I recognized you. You still look pretty much the same.”

“Do you have a cigarette?

“No I quit smoking. But I have something for you.” I scrolled through my Facebook photos and found the photo of him I just happened to post the other day. I showed it to him.

“Yep that’s me,” he said. “I was 20 years old back then.”

This is getting more and more surreal.

“Did you know my mother,” he said.

“No I didn’t,” he said.

“I just got out of the mental hospital,” he said. He showed me the wrist bracelet on his wrist that they ID the mental patients with.

“I was just writing about you on Facebook the other day,” I said.

“What did you say about me?”

“I was writing about how you used to do sidewalk chalk art and how I published your art in our Street Calendar.

“I don’t remember that “

I gave him a copy of the Telegraph Street Calendar (that I just happened to have in my backpack) from the old days as a gift.

“How’s Hate Man?” he said.

“He passed away a couple years ago,” I said

“Sounds like the work of Satan,” he said

“No he was 80 years old. He had a good long life.”


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“Well I got to get back to work,” I said.

We pushed knuckles. And Ortiz wandered off into the night.

I have no explanation for that one.

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