Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Characters: RiverMannonite

Marcie's proximity to the river would, she said, almost always create a "parade of urchins from crazytown." She said that lovingly, and she was generally not very concerned at the number of homeless and uncommunicative drifters who floated in and back out through the doors of her CVS store.

There was one exception. Marcie was not comfortable around one person in particular, though she was able to make light of him. I only saw him once up close.

She had been calling him the Riverman for a long time. According to her, this was the young man who had been in an altercation with Otto. He always wore the same thing.

She told me about him it in lieu of explaining why she was tense one evening. Of course, I knew he was the source of the tension within a minute, as she sometimes did not directly answer me when I asked what was wrong.

"SO, this guy came into work, and he's kind of one of our freaks. He has a black hat with a brim, a vest with hooks and a collar-less, filthy white shirt," she said. "He wears old-fashioned spectacles and he stinks. And he's perverted."

"Perverted?" I asked. Marcie was not one to pay too much mind, which meant he was a bad case.

"Yes, but not like a flasher or anything," she said.

"Does he ogle you?" I asked.

"A little, but that's not what's perverted about him," she said. "He does that to everyone. You'll think I'm crazy if I tell you."

I shook my head. "No, I think you'll be fine. Tell me."

She leaned in close and spoke in a hushed tone. "Okay, so he comes in every once in a while and he walks around the store, then he goes to the women's section and looks at all the feminine hygiene products."

"Okay, so he looks at the douches and the napkins and tampons?" I asked, somewhat dismissive.

She grabbed my arm and pulled me a little closer.

"He gets off on it," she said. "I watched him stare... STARE at the Tampax  boxes one time for three hours, looking at the drawings. He started at the drawings on the maxipads, too, holding them in the light. He spent an hour smelling the box, looking at it, shaking it..."

I began to understand. "Wow, that's a little kooked."

She nodded silently in agreement. "He also plays with the cheap underwear and the bras we have in the back," she said. "And he touches everything. Then, he leaves really fast, every time, and he kind of gives me this nasty smile when he leaves. It's SO GROSS!"

I laughed and she began to crack up. "You know he's going to find a bathroom for a private moment," she joked. "Ohhh, seeexy... a tampon, oh yeah. Ha!"

The stress melted off her, but she was not completely relaxed. "He always smells like the river, too. The whole place stinks when he leaves like rotten water."

She started chopping onions and paused. "He gives me these totally nasty looks, too, when I watch him," she said. "It sucksthat he's started to come back in again. Ugh."

So I decided that I would have to lay eyes on him, and perhaps send a nasty look of my own his way. I would also find out there was more to this character than a fetish, homelessness and a lack of hygiene.