joe/jane || october 2003

I was at the library looking to pick up some new reads. The sign-up for internet use was empty, so I signed up for the next available slot, just a 15 minute wait.

Near through my limit of 30 minutes online, I finished up my business and proceeded to get up. That's when I saw it. Or more accurately, him. There was this guy that was staring at me. He gazed at me with this far away, blank expression, unmoved even when our eyes met. I just glanced his way briefly and went about in search of my books. Who knows, maybe he happened to be staring off into space and I was in his way. It's known to happen. I've done it.

But that wasn't the case this day. I'm in the checkout line with my stack of books, my eyes wandering from the magazine titles on the rack, the people staring intently at computer screens, random splashes of color on the walls, the rows and rows of books, the clock on the wall, and on and on, patiently waiting to be on my way.

On one of these rounds, my visual momentum was halted suddenly. There he was again! Standing to the other side, and partially obscured, by one of the bookshelves. Standing to the other side pretending to be browsing, but eyes surreptitiously darting up to catch a glance at me when he thought I wasn't looking. Our eyes met several times as my eyes traveled back and forth around the library. I finally turned my body in the other direction so that I didn't have to see him anymore. The combination of his lifeless face with his small, piercing, yet curiously mute, eyes was too disturbing for me to bear one second longer.

He was a thin, lanky guy with a thin face, hair parted and combed neatly to the side, wearing thin framed glasses. From all appearances, seemed to be a meek, perhaps shy kind of fella. The kind of fella that would speak to you in a polite, soft spoken manner. Perhaps even stutter on occasion. Your average joe. In other words, he fit the typical profile of the tv psycho that's been drilled into your head time and time again. The normal, quiet guy that, in actuality, is a wacko that likes to behead people and put them in suitcases. All without blinking an eye.

It was finally my turn in line. As I waited for my books to be scanned and passed to me before the turnstile, I spotted joe. joe was now on the other side of the turnstile, just a couple feet away, loitering by the stairs that took you down to the entrance/exit of the library. Our eyes met fleetingly, but I quickly looked away. Spooked. Maybe I've seen too many tv crime dramas, but I didn't like the coincidence of it all. As I put the books in my bag, joe walked down the stairs and out the door. Taking my time, I proceeded down the stairs also, stopping for a moment by the door to adjust my bag one last time, then out I went.

Opening the door, I did a superquick scan, head turning left, then sweeping right. No joe in sight. Still a bit weary, and likely more paranoid than necessary, I turned right and walked. I stopped briefly at a fruit stand, pretending to be interested in what was in front of me, when in fact, I was glancing out the corner of my eye, to my right. No joe. I continued to weave in and out of the crowd. Finally the crowd began dispersing as I pulled further and further away. No joe in sight.

So was it all just me? Maybe joe found our chance eye contacts to be spooky too. Maybe joe thought that I was the one that was the psycho. From all appearances, I was your average jane. The kind of gal that would speak to you in a polite, soft spoken manner, a subtle smile on her face. Mayhap joe stood loitering by the stairs briefly in indecision, thinking the thoughts that I had. How come she's checking out as I'm about to leave? Coincidence? Psycho or no psycho? Upon deciding, joe likely went out the door and turned left, only glancing back maybe once, his steps gaining momentum as he vanished into the crowd.

It was a good decision on his part to have turned left. Had he turned right, he would have been the victim of one such person a witness would vaguely identify as a nondescript lady, just your average jane. And he wouldn't have known who because he would never make eye contact with the perpetrator since the sharp pain came upon him so suddenly, so swiftly. His world would be engulfed in darkness before he knew it.

He'll eventually wake up, both hands bolting swiftly to his head, before letting out a sigh of relief. Yes, he was thankful. It was still intact.