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the transactions

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Confronted last night by a guy on the street, the usual proffered hand with a few coppers, the usual “I need some more to get a taxi.” But then, extraordinarily, he lifts his other sleeve to produce an arm absolutely soaked in blood, nearly gushing. “I need a taxi to get to a hospital.”

NYC trained, he generally walks right past with a shake of the head, but transfixed by a combination of amazement, disgust, and fear, he produces a tenner for the guy from his pocket. “Holy fucking shit, jesus man. Here.”

Both quickly walk away, the transaction completed. Once a safe distance has elapsed, he turns to see – nearly per expectation, definitely per the usual – the guy working someone else over, the same act exactly.

Lucrative desperation. Pragmatism. Cost/benefit analysis.

This morning, he considers the scene. The alleyway, the razor blade, the pain and the tension of potentially cutting it a bit too deep this time. Arterial.

Written by adswithoutproducts

August 17, 2010 at 10:07 am

Posted in london

5 Responses

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  1. I’ve seen that guy a few times. He’s quite well known in the east-end, so much so that when I recounted my first meeting with him, my friend replied “Oh yes, that’s the ‘Brick Lane Wound Guy'”.

    He keeps the wounds open day in and day out, and has been doing so for at least the last five years. It’s more likely to be an abscess that he refuses to let heal than anything else, but it’s still utterly horrific.


    August 17, 2010 at 1:28 pm

  2. Holy shit. Yeah I think I was on High Holborn, so off his usual beat but not too far. It was fucking surreal, and incredibly scary and disgusting. We’re not talking about a minor scratch – it looked like someone had hit his arm with an axe.


    August 17, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    • Surreal definitely gets it. I recall that on my first encounter with him, upon seeing the wound I instantly felt dizzy and weak.
      But I also noticed how calm he was, with no sign of any pain, and also the strangeness of his request: a taxi to go to hospital (with a wound like that surely you could get a free taxi – with sirens – to take you straight there?). I even countenanced the idea that this was some kind of practical joke, and that if I looked up there would be cameras trained on me,
      but then I learned that it’s just his USP.
      On another occasion I had to drag a friend away from him, as they were becoming hypnotised by the blood.
      I must admit that I feel a strange anger towards him, I suppose for his creating such a violent, crude, and effectively exploitative ruse, but then of course: how awful must it be for him to be reduced to that course of action?


      August 17, 2010 at 5:59 pm

      • Yeah I had a tendency for yelling at people like that around Brooklyn, especially when I recognized them from previous encounters. There was a guy who for years on end would ask if you’d “heard about the kid shot at the playground last week in the projects” and one time my wife had to tear me away from him. And another time in Boston, someone collecting on behalf of “MS research” with a clearly fraudulent set of credentials / paperwork – a disease which my mother suffers from.

        So I feel a bit shit about being suckered by this guy now. Good for you for handling the uncanniness better than me! But yeah, a hell of a case, someone keeping an abscess open like that, god.


        August 18, 2010 at 10:58 am

  3. there’s a woman near where i used to live in herne hill who does similar – always has facial injuries, scratches and worse, and complaims of being hit by her ‘fella’. She’s managed to get money out of almost every single resident of that area at least once, and has been doing so for at least 3 years.

    She also asks for odd things – a tenner, usually, which is then upped to £13 ‘for her train fare home’.

    People who yell at her usually have her ‘minder’ to deal with, too…


    August 18, 2010 at 7:06 pm

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