6.19 The Disappearing Building

As everyone knows by now, I’m a walker and have especially been enjoying my return to downtown for the summer. Even walking down a street that I’ve been down several times can change over time. The deeper you get into a walk, the more you do it, the more you start seeing the city in new ways, and notice little details that you could not have possibly seen before. Last week, I was heading to a music show on College Street. I came to a row of office-like buildings and noticed fluorescent lighting bouncing off the leftover puddles from a quick rainstorm earlier in the day. I had walked down this particular stretch of street a number of times, but never noticed these lights. The lights advertised a psychic reader named Lady Mary Jane. The small building was set back between two larger office buildings and wasn’t easily noticeable.

My attitude towards psychics has ebbed and flowed over the years. I had never actually been to one until an interview for the podcast that I co-produce. I dunno, I guess I never wanted to know, wanted to leave things up to fate, whatever that means. And even if the psychic wasn’t up on her game, I felt there was too much room for manifest destiny, meaning if something was said and placed in my mind, it would change my behaviour and make the outcome false.

Anyway, I digress. I had some time to kill before the show started, so I went inside to talk with the psychic. The place was tiny and had way too much furniture for the small space. “I knew you were coming,” a gravely voice said. I jumped a bit because it took me a minute to locate the person attached to the voice. She kind of blended in with the rest of the place. After my initial surprise, I thought this statement was a bit too on the nose coming from a psychic. “Sit with Lady Mary Jane,” she said. “Sit and I will give you the answers.”

The answers to what?

I sat across from her and she grabbed my hands, closed her eyes. She made a noise, one that could only be described as a small dog trying to sound bigger. “You’re worried,” she said. Yeah, I didn’t need a psychic to tell me that. I pretty much worry about everything all the time. “You’re worried about some of the decisions you’ve made and the direction your life has taken.” Well, sure, I happened to be thinking those things lately, but again, I’ve also been thinking about those things forever it seemed. “Let go of the worry, just let it go. You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you might find you can get what you need.” She let go of my hands, did some more growling and sat still. I assumed this was my cue to leave.

That was vague and with a dash of advice from a Rolling Stones song, I questioned the legitimacy of her statement.

At the bar, I ordered a beer and sat down perpendicular to the stage. A young woman picked up a guitar and sat on a stool in front of the microphone. She introduced her percussionist, a tall man dressed all in black and wearing a toque, even though it was humid out. He sat down on what looked like a wooden box standing on its end. She started playing and he joined in, creating a beat by hitting the box between his legs.

Something was off. The amazing beat coming from his hands didn’t match his face. He stared at me, but wasn’t staring at me, couldn’t have been staring at me. Spotlights hit the stage and I know myself from being up there that you can’t see shit. Still, he seemed to be staring at me. His eyes didn’t seem to blink and he had a rough face with a scar on one cheek another at the top of his nose and stress lines around his eyes. But his hands, his hands were smooth and veiny and moved at a speed that was quicker than his stoned face.

My drink was on the table and my hand was around the drink. I could feel the beat coming from his box, moving through the floor, up the table and it made my drink slosh slightly in my hands. I stared at him as he stared at me. I thought about what Lady Mary Jane said, that I should let the worry go. So, with each beat, I let a worry go, one at a time. He stared. His smooth hands banged away my worries.

The song came to an end and he just stared at me, his hands unmoving. Let it go.

A couple of days later, I was heading to the same place for another show. Curious, I went the same way and came across the stretch of road where I first encountered Lady Mary Jane. There were no fluorescent lights, no sign advertising a psychic. The small space was a shoe repair shop. I could see an old man through the window working away, a pile of old shoes beside him. It’s true, the more you walk in a city, the more you see it differently.