……..No matter where he went, a disturbance erupted in the field around him. All he had to do was plant himself somewhere and stay still, in that one place, and that place would turn out to be the center of a growing confusion. It would turn out to be the very place where an event was scheduled to be held, and he would see that event forming around him, and at first just casually wonder what was going on; not getting it, until someone would come up to him and lean over and say, “excuse me, sir, but you could you let us have this chair?” This he had always noticed, that he had a knack for locating himself in the nexus of a future event; that things were always bound to swirl around him, even though he was always irrelevant to the events themselves. So that this knack of his was just an obscurity, and it would sound crazy, even pretentious, if he told of it to anyone. For a while though, he had been largely retired from the world, not even this invisible talent could he claim, and he had virtually forgotten about those days when he toyed with the idea that he was an invisible center and magnet. In fact it was only a memory, this former obscure glory of his, a memory of a thing no one else had even shared. For incredibly, he never mentioned it–the one long running narrative thread of his life! Ah, he was a most unknown man. But there were others, many others like him, in the street, in public places. He was one of the ones who had been using the Rundel Library as his main hangout, or call it a refuge or a retreat, and one day it started happening again; the old magnetism. The first episode was actually a small fire erupting in a wastebasket, and the Library had to be closed. Certainly it was far fetched to believe that had anything to do with him; but the thing was, his life had these patterns, and they weren’t explainable. Things happen around him, and when they start, they become more frequent; it was like a symptom, become an illness. When he came back to the Library the next day it was with secret trepidation, on the lookout, as if he were really the cause of the previous days commotion. And maybe someone even suspected it. He choose a very remote place to hang out for his usual three hours, up on the fourth floor near some historical exhibits. This time it started with a child playing near the glass cases, and this time developed into a full blown emergency situation, in which he actually at one point was holding the elevator doors open. A security guard gave him a suspicious look. The next day when he tried to locate on the main floor it turned out it was the site of an book club event, he was camped out right where the chair lady of the group was to roost, and so it went, everyday he was in the center of something, and one day a women wearing a plastic Libary Staff card on a chain around her neck endeavored to talk to him. She acted like she was trying to help him, but do they help patrons who are just quietly reading a magazine? Or sitting at one of the computers? Why come up to him out of the blue and say, “may I help you?” He felt like saying, “yes.” Yes, you can help me; find me a life. From then on he knew he was being watched, and his facility for ending up in a place where some commotion occurred within the hour, or settling in a place that unknown to him was already chosen for a meeting of some club, did not abate. He just could not manage to fade into the setting. Once again, he had become a magnet, for the second time now in his life. Or was it the third? As a child, probably, it was like this, only then it was probably real power. Come again? As a child, the other children would have believed in this power of his, and followed him. He was a leader, then. Often, old as he was now, he felt he had never grown up at all. And now, in the same pattern that had dogged him his whole life, but this time for good, they were going to take the setting away from him. One day they asked him to not keep coming to the Rundel Library. Could they do that? They did that with their eyes, and their looks, and finally one of the security guards actually said it to him. “Sir, you probably ought not to keep coming around here.” So, he had finally become conspicuous, identified as a loafer, a homeless man (though he wasn’t, he had an apartment, he could show it to them). Pitifully, he asked, “am I a disturbance?” He wanted at least to be told that, that he was a disturbance, even if no one could explain it to him, or help him cure himself of this inevitable tendency, this now proven fact of his being . . . a disturbance to others. It occurred to him he would like to have a job, and work right here, at the Library. Yes! He would do anything; he would just become one of the people who have these low-level jobs, rolling those carts of books around, sitting at the various lookout positions, at the metal desks. He could even answer questions. He used to be an educated man. If he worked at the Library, wouldn’t that solve it? But he was too old for that, and poorly dressed, half the time unshaven, like a bum. They could not possibly fit him in anywhere, at the Rundel Library, and he took the hint–which was more than a hint. Now, he sits all afternoon in the Food Court at Midtown Plaza–which, this whole little-used Plaza that used to be the crown jewel of downtown Rochester, is scheduled to be torn down, actually torn down next July. There he sits, at one of the glass tables with wire chairs, with the smattering of other fellows of his kind, like at the end of the story. That is the narrative I come up with every time I see one of these nondescript guys, downtown; until I look more closely, and see they are leering at me.

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