"Hey you! Yeah, you. You listenin' to me?"
I stopped and turned to face the man who had spoken to me. He was an old man, about seventy-five years old with wrinkled skin, chapped and tanned from facing the elements for years upon years. Brown eyes searched me, darting over me so quickly I could hardly see them move. He wore a thick jacket, the dark blue chequered pattern dirtied and the threads worn thin, showing the thick padding underneath. His once white trainers were now muddied and broken, laces trailing uselessly along the floor. Ripped jeans were held up by a belt, the leather cracked and splitting. A red deerstalker hat hid his hair, the fur on the inside old and dirtied, clumps sticking together from years of grime. He was grinning at me with crooked yellow teeth, a brown paper bag clutched in his dirtied hands. The man was sat on an old mossy log, in the small gap between houses. Behind him weeds and long meadow grass grew abundantly, leaning in towards him, giving the impression that he was sat in the middle of a forest, not in a city centre.
"You mean me?" I asked, pausing to speak to the man.
"Yeah, you." He grinned widely and me and reached into the paper bag. I tensed slightly, half expecting him to pull out a gun. His hand returned clutching onto a sandwich and I let out a small sigh of relief. "Listen closely. You got to remember who the enemy is, okay?" I looked at the man and frowned as he took a large bite of the sandwich.
"I don't understand." The man laughed raucously, closing his eyes and leaning back, slapping his thighs as I gazed on, a bemused expression covering my face.
"The enemy! You'll face him soon enough. Just remember who he is. Tha's all." The man took another bite of the sandwich and grinned as he chewed, his eyes still darting over me.
"You're different, you are. Special. Not like other folks." He leaned forward and beckoned for me to come closer, his eyes glinting. Gingerly, I took a step forward. "See, other folks, they'd jus' walk on by, not even glance in my direction. But you, see, you stopped. You is talking to me!" the man leant back and put the rest of the sandwich back into the paper bag.
"You called out to me though. I didn't start talking to you first." He laughed again and stood up, causing be to back off a few paces.
"I call out to everyone, but only you listen. You is special. Listen closely now, you got to remember who the enemy is. Good. Good. You listen. You hear. Tha's good." The man stepped over the log and started walking away through the weeds and grass.
"Ciao!" he called back to me, raising his hand before vanishing into the undergrowth.
I stood staring at where the man had been for a moment, staring at the small piece of forest that had made it's way into the city and come to stay. Everything fell silent as I stared deeper into the shadows. A man bumped into me and noises started up again, familiar noises of the city. I murmured an apology and with a shiver, moved off, walking towards my destination. In the background, over the noise of all the traffic, I heard the old man's laughter spinning though the air on the wind. Strange, I seem to remember that laugh from somewhere…