Thursday, March 6, 2008


There's a strange guy lurking around the Central library lately. Short, squashed features, black and green leather jacket, and armed with a Pez dispenser.

I don't know if he's drunk, high, or just insane, but he mutters to himself. Tuesday he was sitting in front of an Internet terminal on the third floor, muttering a stream of curse words as though he were talking to someone he hated. He had headphones on, so maybe he was listening to a Bush speech or something, but he was swearing in a thick foreign accent. I'm no Noam Chomsky (I'm no Bobby Flay, for that matter) but I would place it around the Middle East or northern/northwest Africa.

Then he leaned back in his chair and pulled out a little pink Pez dispenser. He held it to his cheek, looked down the length of it, and let it snap shut. He started grinning. He went through this again in another direction. Then he turned to face someone walking by and, turning, he made it clear he was "targeting" people and "shooting" them with his little pink Pez dispenser.

Yesterday he simply walked around the computer tables, picking people out of the crowd, shooting them with his little pink Pez dispenser. He made a couple acknowledging nods to a couple youth dressed in lavish gangsta regalia (puffy jackets, goldtone rhinestone shirts, oversized designer jeans, etc.) though they didn't react with any familiarity. He straightened up, narrowed his eyes at new quarry, drew the little plastic feet back like loading a new round into the chamber, and let it snap shut. He was on the other side of the room but may have seen me staring at him and may have targeted me too; as it happened, my computer time was up and I went back to the office.

I'm not sure how someone complains about something like that. It's a threatening gesture and it's disturbing, but it's hard to call the cops because someone was pointing an unloaded little pink Pez dispenser at you. The library staff are very intimidated in general and don't like to confront the patrons, though I did see the library guards take some guy down in a flying tackle and restrain him until the cops showed up. I would've loved to learn what that was all about. Dude was running between the bookshelves and everything.

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