I met him last week on the steps on The Royal Women’s Hospital. He was coming up, while I was going down. He spoke to me. I hesitated, he stopped.
‘Do you work here?’ he asked.
‘No,’ I said, stopping too.
‘What do you do then?’
‘I’m a minister of religion,’ I told him. A mistake.
He immediately pounced; began to tell me about experiences he’d had, religious and otherwise. About his girlfriend’s experiences, how young she was and his need for someone with more knowledge.
It was raining. I had an umbrella, but he was getting wet. I angled my brollie in an attempt to shelter him a little. He didn’t seem to notice and talked on, asking me questions but leaving me no time to answer. He didn’t need answers.
He had a theory, a conspiracy theory. Inwardly, I groaned, but none-the-less decided I would hear him out. A mega-virus with the capacity to wipe us all out. He had a sample of it with him and he held up a small esky. He should get going. He was taking it inside and he looked up at the hospital.
‘This is the Women’s,’ he said. ‘I’m at the wrong entrance. I’m going to the Melbourne.’
He laughed and turned away from me. Continuing down the steps towards the street corner and my car, I heard him call out. I turned to see him waving at me.
‘Thanks,’ he said, ‘thanks for listening!’
Sometimes, it doesn’t take much to show mercy.