George Decides

When George’s team lost again he knew that finally he had hit rock bottom. He didn’t like to admit it but some of the reversals he had suffered in recent months had been relatively easy to live with and it was also true that it got easier when you had your eye in. Firstly, the pigeon with the blue and green tag on its ankle visited less frequently. George thought of this bird as a friend, and made sure there was always something for any passing example of avian life with a bit of an appetite to eat if it felt that way inclined, but Hector, as he called this creature, was different. Was Hector even a male? George didn’t know. He wasn’t an ornithologist. He didn’t even know what ornithologist meant. What he did know was that Hector seemed somehow interested in him, in what George was doing, in what went on in George’s apartment, far more so than the rest of the winged friends who stopped off at the height of eight storeys, on their way somewhere else.

There wasn’t much to be interested in at George’s place, he knew that, but at least Hector had the manners to behave more like a guest than the rest of them did. George would sit there, with a neat arrangement of spent baked beans cans on his table, ready to be taken out later in the week, the TV permanently on but with the sound down and lights off, and he would look at Hector and Hector would look at him. For a few minutes, until the seed ran out. George fancied that Hector said a little goodbye with his rather ostentatious take off from the window sill, but there was always a sense of relief when Hector left, as George was allergic to birds, he was pretty sure he was anyway, and it was better to limit your contact with them if you could. They’re quite dirty. You wouldn’t want to touch one of them.

About the time George noticed Hector had become a stranger, George also began noticing other things. His supervisor began to criticise him, almost it seemed, for fun. This work was beneath George, any work at all was really. But George was an artist. He had talent. He could paint and sculpt. He didn’t paint and sculpt though. He wrote his thoughts down in a little brown paper covered notebook. It started out as a notebook, then became two, then a few, and by the time George’s supervisor, Gavin, began picking on him, George had two whole shelves full of notes in brown paper-bound notebooks. More than a year’s worth. These were to have been his ideas. Thoughts, reactions, the distillation of emotional responses to the stimuli we experience every day. He would use these ideas for artistic inspiration, that was the original purpose of his note-taking project. But soon after he started George was writing down more than ideas for works of art he might embark upon one day. He was recording the way people spoke to him, how people treated each other, how governments worked, what was happening in the world, and his views about how various areas of life could be improved. The notebooks took on a kind of precious status for George. He would re-read entries months or even years after he had written them and make notes from those entries, then he would go onto the street and talk about his ideas on the police, grammar, and the insidious undergarment industry, to name just a few street corner speeches which led to an audience with a magistrate.

Run-ins with the law didn’t seem so important to George as the deterioration of his relationship with Gavin. Gavin didn’t like him and made their working life impossible. George was criticised for arriving late and leaving early, for reading the newspaper instead of working, George’s reply that he was looking for clues just confused his supervisor, his smell was getting worse, and when the incident happened with Cindy that signalled the end. George had thought Cindy was his friend. She seemed to like him. She seemed chirpy and warm to everyone, but George still thought Cindy understood him on some level. When it happened, he knew instantly there was a problem. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean …” was all he had a chance to say, before she ran from the room with fat tears in her eyes. George had thought she would understand.

These things were all bad. He knew that. He could barely afford to eat now. But food could be found in bins at the back of supermarkets and baked beans were still cheap. He hadn’t been evicted from his apartment, although he wasn’t sure why, when he thought about it. He had missed payments. Rental payments. It is a mature thing to pay your rent, and, it follows, that it is immature to miss payments. George was immature. Not because he missed payments though. He couldn’t afford to pay them any more. He was immature because when his team lost for a third consecutive time, as he watched game on TV with the sound turned down and the silhouette of a ghostly bird hovering above the bathroom doorway, he suddenly felt sad. There seemed no way back from this. His decision was made. Time to act.

Published in: on May 11, 2010 at 6:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

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