Only on these days. Sky like a lowering lid. A step out the door and the immediate, physical need to step right back in again. But you can’t. These things are not permitted. You must engage, brother. So it’s only on these days, though maybe they’re happening all the time. What are those things you get in your eyes? Vitreous floaters. A fleck on your vision that looks like a translucent worm, something from a documentary about the bottom of the ocean. You chase it with your eyes but it keeps on moving, never in focus. These days I see the floater.
So, the man under the tree beside the war memorial directly opposite my door. A tight grey bomber jacket and stone wash jeans. I pass him to go to the shop. He’s whistling very slowly and his eyes are closed. He looks like he should have a moustache and when I come out of the shop he’s gone. Something very 1985 about him, I realise. Maybe he stepped over. Stepped back.
Life on this square. Each time I glance out the window everything is everything but almost imperceptibly overplayed. I’ve just missed the shout of action that sends the postman to put letters through my door, the window cleaner up a ladder to do the pub windows. And the battered Ford van that rattles to a halt in the parking space outside the house. Slam of a door and a glimpse of a bald-headed man. Looking out the window to my right I can see the windscreen. What look like different coloured blocks of wood or plastic are lined along the dashboard.
The van sits there all day. I go out to the shop again. It’s raining now. The fat man stirs from his Bollywood flick and puts my bottle of wine in a bag. I hurry back under my umbrella and stop dead at the van. I see what the coloured blocks are. Lined all along the dashboard are pairs of children’s Converse shoes. All of the same size, it seems, in a neat curve from one side of the dash to the other.
I wait at my door for a while with my key in my hand. Hoping the bald-headed man will appear. I have a right to know but have no idea what to ask or what I’d do with any answer. In six hours it will be another day, the van will be gone and all of this might never have happened. No way to check, then. Just close the curtains, brother. Crack the wine.