The tall bearded man has fainted, fallen on his face. I had just watched stunned the stream of liquid shoot horizontal through the air. A moment passes. Then he is up, he stumbles to his feet and takes himself off. The old man with the can of chemical turns his attention to the 300 pound Baptist Revival preacher who has made this corner under the movie marquees his home for years. He says to the attacker, cool, man, be cool. The old man is uncertain what to do. Holds the can high in the air, aimed at his adversary. The preacher steps up to the corner, and begins preaching to the cars passing in the intersection. The gas cloud from the attack has spread, clearing all the Starbucks customers from the cafe terrace. The attacker takes himself down to the Taco Bell across the street, where he can contemplate the aftermath of what he has done from a distance.
My friend tells me the attacker once was rich, underwent emergency heart surgery, lost his health, lost his family, lost everything. He had been shouting to the preacher that vagrants shouldn't be allowed to disturb residents like himself who had to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for their homes when they are trying to relax at a cafe. No one knows what place the bearded man now gone had in this.
Probably no place at all. That is the sense we all got. My friend assures me that none involved is actually insane.
The preacher goes on preaching to no one, talking in general, while actual evil has just happened, evil threatening him personally. A man has just suffered an attack, and disappeared. The cafe terrace has been cleared of customers, who stand in groups on the sidewalks, turned towards the preacher. They don't know what to make of this. I don't know what to make of it. Is it because it means nothing, it is so strangely significant? Because we expect meaning, and it is not there?
We have seen a man preaching a religion of love, seen violence, and seen a life fallen apart.
And it means nothing?
(continued in The Meaning)