Strolling down Water Street, I pass a homemade kiosk containing a well-dressed proprietor and an attached sign declaring, in bright green letters, that the man inside will provide surreal yet sound financial advice for a single dollar. Before today I had only seen these signs accompanied by vagrants hoping the irony would catch the right person at the right time and garner them some small amount of tax-free income, to be disposed of in their veins or liver. Admittedly, more than once the idea has brought out a snicker via the parts of me responsible for such actions. But today I am only confused, and then I am only intrigued. The man does not appear to need my dollar or anyone else’s. I look closely and the suit says Armani. I look even closer to confirm that it’s not that fake Armano you sometimes see floating around. This one could be traded in for some rent and food and maybe even a little fun left over. Still, here he stands, presentable and eager, offering a service that is hard to pass up.
I shamelessly stare at his face, trying to figure out his story. What led him to this point? What mistakes were made and learned from that lend credibility to his claim? Who has he hurt? When is his desired dinnertime? How do I take advantage of what I might hear? It’s worth a dollar to find out. I dig into my pockets and pull out all of the cash I can scrounge up, a measly three quarters. I offer it to him without speaking. He chuckles silently as he shakes his head. I move on but can’t get him out of my head. I ask a nearby woman for a little change. She waves me away. Embarrassed, I scour my surroundings for a bank machine and spot one up ahead. I refuse to let the suited kiosked man out of my sight, for fear he will disappear. Maybe he isn’t really here. I am on mescaline, after all.
[Editor’s note: The interaction you’ve all been waiting for may be revealed on the morrow.]