Black Helicopters

He mostly comes in here for the beer.

Sometimes, people wonder about him---mostly the children, because the grown-ups, after all this time, they don’t always see him anymore. Some ask, who is the man in the raggedy cloak?

- The Palmer from The Faerie Queen?
- No, he's too tall, and his walk is much too regal.
- Cyrano de Bergerac about to claim that he's just fallen from the Moon?

- No, the nose is wrong and the white plume is missing from his hat.

There are those who claim he is Wotan himself, disguised as a wanderer.

But I am not so sure about that either. He says he comes here for the beer.

The bartender doesn't mind him.

He doesn’t bother anyone and, hey, nobody bothers him.

There is also that fellow who claims he comes from the future.

Something about being stranded in the present. The management says he has a knack with programming, and, well, as such things go, it might come handy out here, I am sure, with all the high tech stuff they have laying around and what-have-you.

And then there is this Golden Park’s nighttime resident who stumbled in here some twelve years ago, or so, as the park’s squatters were being pushed away by San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown’s military-style helicopters, equipped with infrared heat-sensors, no less, to root out the homeless who had taken residence there.

"Zero tolerance" can be a bitch. Despite Mayor Brown's insistence that there were enough emergency beds for the people who wanted them, San Francisco's shelter operators were turning people away every night for lack of space. And, so, the management here just didn’t have the heart to send him off. And then again, one never knows: the guy might just have been Wotan in disguise. As it turns out, he wore no mask. Not in the ordinary sense of the word in any case. He laughed when I brought it up, and quoted Shakespeare to me, “all the world is a stage.”

I don’t see him often, but the few times I did, I ended-up buying him a beer, or two…or three---whatever it takes: the man is a wonderful storyteller, and he also recites poetry like no-one else. He has a particular’s affection for Luigi Pirandello, especially for Uno, Nessuno e Centomila (One, No one and One Hundred Thousand).

If you run into him, try and buy him a beer --- or two…or three---whatever it takes. Perhaps, he'll quote some Pirandello to you. Some lines from Henry IV, maybe:
"As a child I saw moons in the well. And I’d have sworn it was true. Whatever others told me, I believed and was happy.
Oh one must…one must cling fiercely to what seems true today, and will tomorrow also, though it’s the opposite of what was true yesterday.
Beware…lest you sink like me while trying to grasp something that truly drives you mad… Being beside someone… Looking them in the eyes as I have done one day.
I felt like a beggar in front of a door that would never open for him.
Whoever enters, it shall not be you with your inner world as you see it and touch it, but someone unknown to you."

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