short stories

~ The Crazy Ones ~

~ The Crazy Ones ~

“His eyes were wild and his spirit uncombed. He had an alien presence that captivated everybody in the room. As we sat round the hostel bar table drinking beers, he flung his arms around like a maniac and told tales of his adventures. He must have been nearing fifty years-old but still possessed the dazzled and bewitched gaze of an infant discovering the surrounding world for the first time. At every moment he seemed painfully excited to be alive. He chugged his beer and spoke of hitchhiking around America while sleeping on the side of roads; he spoke of fighting off a couple of Venezuelan robbers with a knife; he spoke of helping to build an orphanage somewhere in Mongolia with a group of eagle hunters.

As he regaled us with his tales, I looked around at the younger faces around the table. Some looked intimidated and others looked utterly transfixed. No doubt the younger ones of the group had not encountered a creature of this kind before. Personally I had met a few people like this before out here on the road. I recognised a little bit of myself in him and enjoyed sipping my beer to his stories, although I could never imagine venturing as far down the rabbit-hole as he had done. It was true that I liked to have chaotic adventures – but fighting off some guys with a knife in a country known for drug gangs, gun crime and bloody murders was maybe a little too bohemian for me.

The tales of worldwide chaos and anarchy went on until eventually everyone’s beers had run dry. Looking down at the foamy mass at the bottle of the glass, he got up and headed back to the bar while offering to get a round in for everyone at the table. As soon as he left the table the gossip began. “Well, he’s a bit ‘out there’ isn’t he?” said one girl. “Yeah, is anyone else slightly afraid?” said the guy beside me. “How is someone like that still alive? How old even is he?” wondered another. As they carried on talking I couldn’t help but sit back and smile. I knew that although they were slightly intimidated, they were also secretly fascinated by such a ferocious free-spirit. The look in their eyes had a sort of marvel – an amazement that a man his age could still be living such an adventurous life. With this in mind, they chatted away about him with a sort of curious interest. This is how it was – this is how it always was with these types of people.

Always the crazy ones were discussed with hidden interest. Some were mocked outright, and others were affectionately referred to with lines like “she’s a bit different” or “he’s a bit out there”. Whatever the case, it seemed most people had a subconscious fascination for the alternative mind. People would stand back and observe them as if they were a rare species – some kind of exotic bird with pink feathers. Mostly they fascinated me because they were the creatures who had jumped the fences of normality; they were the ones who hadn’t subscribed to the current version of sanity which helped us all enjoy small-talk down the pub. To me that was a liberating quality I couldn’t help but envy. Without being shepherded on the farm of conventional thought, you were free to invent yourself and be whatever you wanted to be. And what was more desirable than that? In a world that said the winners were the rich people, or the famous people, or the good-looking people, to me it was the crazy ones – the people living life on their own terms – who were life’s greatest success stories.”

(taken from my book ‘The Thoughts From The Wild’ available here)

 

 

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