It was the depth of his eyes that initially made me stop and take notice. Not to glance as one would in public or at a social gathering, but to really Look at him. There was something writhing below the surface, something old and intense. Lunging forward and then retreating ... teasing ... luring ... asking for an introduction. Something unlike anything I had ever encountered. I had heard stories of such characteristics ... in fiction. Kind of like a fairy-tale creature ... lovely notion that you hope to eventually see, but know that you won't ... maybe.
His manner of speaking was a complete betrayal of the pseudo-wisdom that peered from beneath the heavy dark lashes. An overdone southern homeless drawl; its origin a toss-up across multiple state lines. I didn't even hear his words ... entirely. Something about stale cigarettes and coffee ... and my ass.
Subconsciously, I adjusted my stance.
The aged look of his face was a testament to a mis-spent youth that had been heavily anesthetized in a cloud of excessive drug and alcohol use. I would later learn that his mid-life years were composed as a blur of recovery induced by a catalytic half-baked prostration in the gravel church parking lot up the hill. There is something about waking, disoriented in the shadow of a 30-foot cross ... "It'll save you or destroy you," he hissed.
Bitterness frothed amidst his words as he spoke of a daughter long lost to the care of a psychotic ex who was nothing but a money-grubbing-bitch, but then aren't they all? A marriage that succumbed to the seductive invitation of another ... dissolved in accusations and arguments. And, yet, as he spoke there were gaping holes; his eyes twinkled mischievously as though his words were an intricate, demented allegory intended to be pieced together over time. He wasn't speaking of domestic disruptions, failed relationships ... his meaning was much broader ... more complex. He was testing the waters. Trying to determine where I stood ...and how I may react to the Truth.
It was then that it dawned on me ... I had made a mistake.