Prophets Of Thursday Evening

In the middle of the road stood a shabby man wearing a flannelette shirt undone to his waist and a pair of grimy trackpants. He clearly slept in these clothes. He raised his arms in a sort of benediction to all who passed by, both on the street, for pedestrians did gawp silently as they encountered the scene and then forgot it, and on the road, as cars and even a truck navigated around him without feeling the necessity of using their horns to clear a safe passage. Wild eyes briefly alighted on the features of the Thursday evening bustle before passing on to something else. The man was not focussing on anything in particular. He wasn’t capable of doing it. He was taking in the lights and the blur and the noise, but taking them in as and indistinct whole. When traffic’s flashes and flickers and smudges of colour calmed into a clear cool white the man took a few steps and got off the road and continued on his way. He was gone.

A man and a woman walked briskly along the footpath. Too briskly it seemed. There was something shifty, almost, about them. The man was carrying something: a package, wrapped in brown paper, in his arms and some sort of pink object in one hand. Someone inside a shop called out to the pair as they hurried and they nodded in the direction of the sound of the voice, but they didn’t stop, and the man in the shop, an older man who was packing his pipe and sitting on a packing crate and preparing to come outside for a smoke seemed disappointed briefly, until someone else he knew passed by his son’s grocery shop and he called out to them too, and this time they stopped for him. The couple walked on, skipping across the road against the lights when they saw no cars were around. They reached the other side and both carefully leaned down towards the footpath, holding the package carefully together, and they abruptly stood up, and there was no package. Instead there was a dog, a tiny little brown dog, the colour of brown paper bags, and the man held the handle of the dog’s lead which was a pink handle. The dog leapt and scurried in all directions and seemed to have no concept of what going for a walk entails and no notion of going one way. Both man and woman watched the playful animal stand on its hind legs and skip and become tangled in its short lead. They were relaxed now and the man placed his arm around the woman’s waist, and they walked on, much more slowly than before.

Outside the cake shop sat a man wearing a tight T-shirt and short shorts and a pair of expensive shoes built for professional athletes to exercise in. On the small round table in front of him were his mobile phone and his keys, and next to them a latte and a slice of cake overhanging the edges of a little plate. Commuters in shades of grey left the train station and walked past the cake shop in a mumble of anonymity. The man sipped his coffee and ate his cake with his little fork and took little notice. Until he shot up, and said, “Hi there! Why don’t you sit down? I’m having some carrot cake. Naughty, I know, but I’m just back from the gym.” A woman carrying several shopping bags halted, as if caught in some kind of animal trap. She spoke to the man in the gym gear. He stirred his coffee as he spoke to her. “Oh, well. Enjoy your dinner then. See you later, toots,” he said.

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Published in: on May 31, 2012 at 8:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

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