Circling the square

July 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

He probably appeared as they came out of the station, but they’d walked the length of the street, up past the Town Hall, before they noticed him.

You’d not say he was following them, not if you’d just glanced over, or if you were someone passing by in the opposite direction. It’s only really apparent as they emerge onto the square. That’s when he makes his move.

The couple are well-heeled, probably mid-fifties. The woman’s frosted blonde hair isn’t something she’d have done at home alone in the kitchen with rubber gloves and too much Bacardi; her husband’s cashmere scarf emerges from a well-cut overcoat. Tailored, that’s what you’d say. Assured. They’re striding, rather than walking; the sort of people for whom crowds might part. Unfamiliar with rejection, or failure, or disappointment.

But yet there is this tall man in his bedraggled long coat, like a shadow at their heels. From here, you can’t tell what’s being said; you can only see their breath, visible like speech bubbles in the cold January afternoon. The tall man won’t leave them alone, and you imagine the well-heeled man trying to be firm whilst his wife tightens her hold on her handbag. You know that gold chain forming the shoulder strap would snap in an instant.

Part of you hopes they’ll say the right thing, shrug him off like conscience, and part of you hopes for a tussle. From your vantage point, up above the theatre’s entrance, you’re invisible, like a puppeteer, and you can judge without reason or consequence.

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