The minute I saw Lorenzo, I knew things had skewed weird. Lorenzo was what I called the pigeon that was hanging around the doorway and personally escorting patrons to their destination. I watched him from upstairs, and he never faltered in his duty. I named him after Lorenzo Music, the once famous never seen doorman of my youth on Rhoda.
My friend was running late so I walked through the stacks looking for something to read. I stopped at the table labeled “Magical Realism”. Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Rudolfo Anaya. Tom Robbins. Nah, I had read all those books. I settled into an easy chair with The Lovely Bones, which I have since finished and recommend you read behind closed doors if you don’t like crying in public.
The book was chilling, but not so much as the reedy wailing I kept hearing on and off as I pushed through the beginning. It was vague but in it’s own way ubiquitous. After the third time I heard it, I saw him. There was a saxophone player on the bridge above me that linked the two halves of the Salt Lake City main library together, playing his heart out. No one else reacted to him, not even the ones that walked across the bridge. I read Susie Salmon’s firsthand account of death and moving across the skin of the world invisibly and ineffectively while I watched this ghost player and I had the chills. Must be October, I thought.
And it was.
My friend showed up and we chatted about those things that you can only talk about with your friends. At some point the saxophonist left, but I didn’t see him leave any more than I saw him arrive. We were deep in it when the man stopped in his tracks and we both thought uh-oh, what offended this troublesome stranger? I know we thought it because we both said it as soon as he left.
“Is that the book about the dead girl?” he asked me. Sure was, I replied and he told me he’d read it, or rather listened. He had worked at the post office and listened to lots of books as he worked invisible and alone in the sorting room, sending things on their way in the world. People like to stop and tell me their stories sometimes. I don’t know why. I have never asked. He seemed lonely. He was retired now and figuring out where he fit in the world.
His life’s philosophy was varied and gathered from years of experience and by golly, he was going to tell it to us. He ranged across his years as a postal worker to filling every day with joy. Are you familiar with the Dine or Navajo the man asked us. I am, my friend said. And he was. He had grown up on a Dine reservation and so would have, I would say, a passing familiarity with the subject. This rocked our new friend for only a second as he proceeded to tell us the wonderful things he had learned from the Navajo, thanked us for our time and moved on surreally, but finally.
That was weird, we agreed. So weird, that we were still discussing the weirdness of it when I noticed the police car drift by the entrance, lights a-twirling. Then came the ambulance. Then the firetruck. I wonder what that’s about I thought, but didn’t say. Then Lorenzo escorted three firefighters, two police officers and a pair of paramedics to the door with their stretcher and they took the elevator to the other side of the floor. I don’t know what had happened over there. I didn’t want to know. The emergency part of emergency responders gives me the willies and we agreed it was time to go.
As I walked home, I wondered what I had done that had made my life turn anecdotal and strange for four hours and then I remembered. I stopped at the table of Magical Realism. My week has been a little weird since, but I’m not ready yet to hang around non-fiction.
My life can always use a little weird.