PUTE! PUTE! The words spat out with such intense force and ferocity. Nosey by nature, I perked up to see where they were they coming from and to try and lay eyes on their intended recipient. I didn’t have to wait long to discover the author of the unpleasantries – I saw him from a distance, walking purposefully up the street in my direction. It was a homeless man whom we will heretofore refer to as “The Boss”. Pink faced and dressed in all black, he was fairly unremarkable except for the beach hat. Cream colored with stripes of tan, brown, orange and red and flipped up on all sides, it solidified the character for me. I watched him walk down the opposite side of the street until he was out of sight, then reappeared a few seconds later on my side, busily hurling his incomprehensible insults at an unseen victim.
I popped the collar on my H&M jean jacket and wrapped it tightly around my neck. It was getting REALLY cold. From my perch in front of the Monoprix market on one of those little cylinder shaped concrete phallic symbols , I stretched my nosey neck to try and figure out this riddle.
Suddenly a homeless woman appeared, quickly making her way up the street in my direction clutching her bag and walking as fast as one can without running. I couldn’t believe my luck – the action was coming to ME! Then here HE comes pulling up the rear and steadily cursing her out. She crosses the street barely twenty-five yards ahead of him and manages to turn the corner and disappear. Apparently not THAT interested, he gives up chase and steps into the Monoprix market directly behind me. About ten minutes later, he emerges with a small white bag containing his purchase and, of course, yelling insults over his shoulder at the cashier, the manager – anyone within earshot. Since my back was to him, I automatically started forming my KUNG FU plan – I WILL chop an old man on the NECK if he acts a fool! Luckily for him, he pays no attention to me and instead makes a right turn and starts walking down the street in the same direction from which he had come.
So I’m still sitting on my stoop, shivering and waiting for my friend to get here on the metro. I’m minding my business, in my own world when slowly I’m roused back into the present by approaching negativity. I tune in and recognize a familiar sound. It’s The Boss and his screaming insults are accompanied this time by pointing, yelling and the desperate waving of arms in a sign of “DEGAGE!” (Get the hell out of here!). At this point I’m not sure if he’s conversing with the voices in his head or if there is an actual flesh and blood target for his thunder. He continues his unwavering rampage for a good five minutes or so before I recognize the latest victim of his seemingly insatiable rage. Another HOMELESS man. A younger guy, probably in his late 30’s and if I had to guess, I’d say probably Australian. We’ll go with Australian. The Aussie was not a SEASONED homeless like the older man. In blue jeans, a button up shirt and leather sandals, he sat leaning on the side wall of Monoprix, perched on one of those backpacks you wear when you’re backpacking across Europe. I assumed it was the empty Macdonalds cup sitting in front of him that earned him The Boss’ undivided attention.
It was precisely at this moment that I knew this would end up on the blog. From there I tuned in completely – I was no longer shivering on a stoop waiting for my friend – I was engrossed in this drama playing out in front of my eyes. It was a tale of the most basic human instinct, I was witnessing a struggle for SURVIVAL. One Euro thrown into YOUR cup is one less in MINE, period. If you’re working MY strip, I’m splitting my daily take with you and I don’t KNOW you like that. Get your own strip!
My senses now heightened, I start absorbing the details of the scene and notice a very cool homeless guy directly across the street from us, apparently standing guard over an impressive pile of travel bags and random camping gear. Dressed in black carpenter style jeans, a long sleeved pea green shirt and thong sandals, Mr. Cool was leaning on a pole, ankles crossed, smoking his cigarette and watching the events unfold. He must of sensed that The Boss’ strategy wasn’t working with the big blond guy because he started yelling across the street to him – I imagined he said, “Whut up Dawg, should I come over there?” I felt a TAG TEAM coming on. Mr. Cool attempted communication from across the street for a few more minutes before crossing to get a firsthand look. A bizarre exchange that I dare not call a conversation took place between the two men, after which they turned their collective attention to the Aussie.
Up until this point, the husky blond had been wearing a slight smile – rather amused by the old fella. His disposition no doubt taunting his rival as he impotently hurled his verbal abuses and flailed his arms. Now I detected a look of concern creeping over his features as he realized the tables were turning. The smile disintegrated completely as the pair started toward him. They didn’t have to go far– the Aussie quickly started reattaching the velcro closures of his sandals and raised his left hand, palm towards them, in a sign of surrender. Determined to enjoy the fruits of their labor thoroughly, the pair kept coming. The Aussie picked up the pace. He gathered his cup, slung his backpack over his shoulder and quickly headed off down the street – doubletime. [2-0 The Boss]
The dynamic duo remained planted on their winning battlefield for a few minutes before heading back over to their pile across the street. Still clutching his little white bag, The Boss took a seat on his stoop and pulled out a cold one, popped it open and refreshed his parched throat. Mr. Cool was talking, leaning on the pole and decided to have a seat next to The Boss. And therein lay his mistake. I suppose he was hoping to get a sip for his display of fidelity. The Boss quickly began barking orders in his direction and waving his arms in the sign of “Allez – BOUGE TES FESSES!” (Get your BUTT up, NOW!). Mr. Cool unwillingly got up and tried to address to the Boss who by this time was submerged in his extra tall can of beer. [3-0 The Boss]
Defeated, Mr. Cool turned to walk away, mumbling his unhappiness and giving several big Parisian shoulder shrugs as if to say, “Daaag, man – you could have at least given a brother a SiiiP after I had your back and everything”. The Boss never looked up from his beer.