By Francis Anthony Govia
It was a lazy afternoon when I ran into Creature. Two hours earlier I had met a colleague from a previous job for lunch at Pound & Pence. We washed down burgers and French fries with bottles of beer before saying our goodbyes on Broadway, and I wandered off to J&R, the electronic store near City Hall. The 42 inch Panasonic plasma TV I had purchased about six months ago was now 899, or two hundred dollars less than before. I reminded myself that six years ago, it would have probably cost me ten grand. I was playing with these thoughts in my mind when out of the corner of my eye I connected with his, and he pressed the CD into my hand. My mood became increasingly better. Was it free? As quickly as the thought entered my mind it was dispelled. Creature shrewdly cut off my escape, forcing me gently into a conversation with him.
“Where are you from?” he asked.
“Why?” I replied, acknowledging in my mind for the first time that the CD was for sale.
“Because people always have something interesting to say about where they are from,” he said.
“I was born in the Caribbean in a place called St. Kitts and Nevis. Do you know where that is?” I said, waiting to see some form of acknowledgement in his eyes, and seeing none, I continued. “It’s near the US Virgin Islands. And here is a piece of American history for you. Not all of the Founding Fathers were Europeans. Alexander Hamilton was born in St. Kitts and Nevis before he came here and devised our banking system.”
“So he sold out to the establishment,” said Creature.
”Not really,” I said, feeling a sense of justice rising within me. “The Founding Fathers were Statesmen. They really cared about the country. Not like today where politician care about their careers. But enough of that. Where are you from?”
“You ever heard about Cleveland, Ohio?”
“Yes,” I said, feeling another story about to develop.
“That’s not where I’m from,” said Creature, smiling amiably at me. “”I’m from New York. Born and raised in New York.”
“Tell me about the CD,” I said, smiling back at him.
“It’s independent music. You’re gonna like it.”
“What is it selling for?”
“I’ll tell you what. I’ll give you 10,” I said, handing over a twenty dollar bill, and watching Creature make change while the flow of New York’s traffic passed inconspicuously around us.
“Take a look at this,” he said, whipping a book from out of nowhere. I glanced at the cover of the book. The Underdog’s Manifesto: A Guerilla Artist’s Path to Independence.
I turned over the book and quickly perused a few lines on the back.
“Who is the guy who attended GWU law?” I asked. Is that you?”
“No. It’s a brother much smarter than me,” Creature responded. “Are you a Counselor, Sir?”
“I used to work for a law firm up to a few months ago,” I said. “But I resigned. Why are you asking?”
“Because usually when a person quickly observes something, the first thing that they refer to and that person are usually connected,” said Creature.
“That was in another life,” I said. “I like you. I’ll take the book. How much is it?”
“It’s 12, but I don’t have change so I’ll take 10.”
“Thanks,” I said, smiling at him.
“What is your name, Sir?”
“Mine is Creature,” he said, looking me in the eye.
“See you again,” I said, turning away to catch the train to Brooklyn Heights.
Samples of Hustle to be Free can be heard at Amie St. or Tradebit.The Underdog’s Manifesto is available at Outside the Box Publishing. More about Creature can be discovered at Coffee Grind Media.“Orf the Street” is a column dedicated to those who make a living off the street.