When I first moved to Seattle many long years ago, I found myself living in a pretty terrible apartment building.  There were active drug deals going on all the time, cops would routinely flash their lights into the windows, physical fights would break out between tenants.  One of the guys on my floor was particularly interesting.  His name was Todd; a man in his 50s or 60s.  Todd was crazy as fuck.

Todd talked to me exclusively, not for any reason other than I was the only person in the building willing to listen to his insane ramblings.  I literally spent an hour one night just standing in the hallway as he went on and on about the logistics of using those really big industrial cranes.  Todd was by no means stupid; he was incredibly knowledgeable about those cranes as well as the merchant marines, and I later learned that he had distinguished educational credentials.

But at the time, the only real “information” I was able to get about his past was his claim that he moved to Seattle in order to mine mercury from Mount Rainier.  In his own words, this was a failure because the prerequisite for mining mercury is, “an advanced degree in chemistry and martial arts.”

One time he explained to me that the US was covertly being run by King George and the British Empire.  This was easily my favorite of our conversation topics, because he had such an elaborate alternate history in his head.  Apparently Stalin and Churchill put a bullet through President Truman’s head after he dropped the bombs on Japan in WWII.

Part of the appeal of his stories was in the way he told them.  He would start out in this faux whisper, and gradually get louder as well as lower, to the pointing where he would be shouting in this strange croaky manner.  Whenever he said something he found to be funny, he would grin with these tobacco stained teeth and let out an intense and nervous laugh.

There was also this phrase he kept coming back to over and over again.  For context, Todd had a tendency to repeat the Truman assassination story, regardless of where the narrative originally began.  Whenever he got to the actual assassination scene, he would act out the part of Churchill and say, “You’re a menace to us, and you’re a menace to humanity, and now I’m going to put you out of your misery!”  He would get really loud on that last part while miming an execution-style gunshot.

He must have been a lonely guy, and I remember one night he invited me over to his place to look at something.  I had no clue what it was supposed to be, but I’ve always been relatively trusting of crazy people.  He proceeds to show me a pipe which he had carved himself.  It was pretty much the only thing he owned other than some books, and I found it to be really touching that he’d trust me enough to show it off.

He died about a week later.  The circumstances were quite bizarre, as he was apparently found in the laundry room with a bunch of small puncture wounds around his neck and scissors in his hand.  The initial thought was that he had committed suicide by stabbing himself in the neck.  However, the official cause of death was actually something to do with his heart.  I guess he had some chronic condition and had been known to “treat” himself with self-acupuncture – thus the neck wounds.

Given enough isolation, I can totally see myself going down that route.  I’ve already devised a nervous tick (tapping my left collar bone) and can ramble endlessly about inane topics.

Goodbye, Todd.  You taught me to fear other human beings.


Published in: on April 22, 2011 at 7:50 am  Comments Off on Todd