The Green Prince

Standing outside, I propped myself against a tall table and drank coffee. A slightly cold afternoon, the clear sky was interrupted by a jet passing over the ridgeline of a distant building. “You see that?” a voice from behind said. I turned to see a short elderly man in a baseball cap with a dog on a lead tucked behind his back. A black chihuahua. I remarked how beautiful the sky was but I didn’t go into why. I wasn’t in the mood. To be honest, I was feeling pretty miserable but the sky was soothing panacea to the day’s ridiculous to-ing and fro-ing. The stranger, knew none of this.  No connection, no seat, no real peace and no constructive production. The trick remains in how to turn frustration into something positive. Though the trick this time was clearly on me. He merely thought I was participating in some common critique of our melamine vista. So he cut through everything, my secret irritation and lack of facility, his ignorance and the sky above by declaring the jet part of some secretive geoengineering project. I didn’t grasp what he meant at first, merely pointing to the jet, feebly guessing. He proposed that passing planes irradiated the sky to infiltrate the food chain through precipitation. I asked what he meant and how he knew this. He just knew. It wasn’t a passenger plane but a drone belonging to a large figureless corporation. At this point I realised I had given him too much latitude, affording him space to elaborate and given over my space and time to his particular view and frame of reference, his idea of what we were seeing and what he thought we were watching. He was a little like Lee Friedlander come to think of it, always a shadowy figure in frame – embraced, silhouetted and generally dishevelled. He said he came from Oregon, a climate that had befallen a tsunami nearly 300 years ago. Despite being the American midwest it was close enough to the coast to feel the effects of inland wash and the Hookah trees still held traces in their rings that transcribed this traumatic past event. How this related to our present position, I wasn’t sure but thats where he came from and we were both here so maybe it was his way of introducing himself against a contemporary backdrop of conspiracy theory and politics. The neighbouring Danish Embassy did not escape his attention either, wrapped into our impromptu conversation. The embassy’s green flag barely visible from where we stood was waving for which I couldn’t see, yet presumably existed. Apparently Denmark recognised Prince Charles as their real Green Prince and supreme benefactor, one that had destroyed much of New Zealand’s farmland as a result of his charitable commissions and that Margaret Thatcher was secretly a member of a covert Pan-European group of decision makers that frequently met in Rome. “It is a shame about her dementia though”, he added. The sun was beginning to fade by this point. My coffee finished. Throughout the conversation a small child had chased the chihuahua around the table legs, while the child’s mother apologised from behind. “I have to go now”, I announced. His disappointment afforded a slight hand shake. Looking down at the chastised dog hide from the persistence of small children I looked back up to finish our final goodbyes but he’d walked off. I think he was disappointed we didn’t talk more but then again he did all the talking. I remember he kept apologizing all the time. There was something distant about him which I couldn’t quite place. The last thing I remember he saying before he disappeared was, “I’m Lee.