He spent numerous days in his pyjamas. If he recalled correctly and sometimes he didn't, he hadn't left the house; at least physically for 3 days. His skin seemed to weigh on him like a polyester suit. He had a constant itch and feeling of being enclosed, obsessing over people had never really known or liked. They seemed to live so effortlessly. Their social media posts and photographs projecting a warmth and a coherence that he felt unable to match in his own life. He wanted to leave no trace, live a blameless existence. He had many plans but no intention to execute any of them. She lived a noisy life in the attic above him. His day was filled with her footsteps and musical choices. He viewed her positively although their contact was functional in a practical sense; upbeat energy in otherwise gray days. It was a surprise when she invited him for a cup of tea. "It is weird that we live under the same roof but are otherwise strangers". There was no time to be surprised as the car skidded out of control and hit them, he tried briefly to grasp her hand, one last reflex. Although he lived an extensive life in his thoughts: he didn't have time to think a final thought.
They could barely relate to each other. Unpolished as is the human
way when observed dispassionately, but like humans they tried to
seem certain. Thinking they could carry out their plans, manipulate
and get their own way. Their eye contact had become forced and
staged; their smiles of acknowledgement were masking
estrangement. When the woman choked on the hard part of a
tomato; they were forced into immediate action; one of them applied
the Heimlich manoeuvre while the other called the emergency
services. We do not have to get on to compliment each other
He did something in the shipyards, but I was too young to know what. Those times, in any event, had long passed. His hair was white and he had spectacles with thick rims, that is much of his appearance as I recall. It was hard to imagine the time in which he had worked; things around there were beginning to accelerate, melting into air and the past was exactly that; should he come back now he would recognise very little.
I learned much later that he sometimes visited the Chinese takeaway to talk about communism; he believed in an equally high standard of living for all, not death camps and suppression of the individual. If one man has a nice suit, all men must have a nice suit. His presence was not a political one for me, I was a child, he was someone who we visited. He greeted me on me and my brother's visits with a smile and a jig; "Not bad for 85 year old'' he'd say. He made us ice cream floats, slipping the ice cream out of those individual paper packets that ice cream used to sometimes come in. He was a vital man, there was something to him that made him exciting to be around. Although he had been educated to a low level by contemporary norms he was well read and informed, I came to learn in later years. He never had a child, that I learned too. What does that do to a person to be childless? What does that do to a person to have a child? Time passes and things happen regardless. I think he died in the same week as my grandma, but I could be mistaken. The exact details of one's life sometimes become muddled. An enigmatic figure in a bigger picture. Forgotten by many.
I slept wonderfully,
expunged of all sins
actual and imagined,
under a checkered quilt,
I dreamed of an Adonis and forgetting,
His clothing perfectly accentuated
his classically perfect physique,
I don't know what to make of that,
that has been happening so much lately,
Who do you confide in, when there is just jittery energy?
My body is calling for something but I have not yet formulated an answer,
I have made a deity out of caffeine lately,
and my nails are so far in the distant past,
they bumped into my great granda on Bedford terrace.
People ask me if I'll move back to my land of birth,
But I have never really left.
Sometimes his attention seemed to split apart. His consciousness seemed to visit different dimensions simultaneously. He felt like, at times, he was living inside a kaleidoscope. Although he often lacked the means to describe his lived experience to others. When he tripped over the old Dutch woman; her hair disordered and her body cramped up like a day old hot dog, he experienced his head hitting the last step of the escalator, but his mind was also elsewhere compiling a shopping list. His thoughts were still something briefly as his body became nothing. His eulogy mentioned his numerous professional accolades, but nothing of his trivial end.
In 2008, the British Home Office lost the data of 84,000 English and Welsh prisoners. Catastrophic events can follow on from the humblest of beginnings, in this instance the data was downloaded to a memory stick by Home Office Consultants and deleted.
He was not involved, nor in any way was he linked to it. Nevertheless, he feared these types of occurrences and built his life around guarding against them. He subscribed to the business maxim ‘’How you do anything is how you do everything’’. He approached all facets of his life with a fanatical fastidiousness. He lived an almost monastic life dedicated to the eradication of risk and error. Life, as most people know, can throw up its own unpredictable events. Any conceivable eventuality can transpire. As he finally choked on the apple, he didn’t quite have time to think of the horrendous banality of his end.
His mother called him Jeroen, his friends called him buckwild, but he’d forgotten why. He rode a 3-wheel bicycle backwards in the vicinity of the train station, his glasses steamed up at times. He didn’t often know why he did things, they just seemed to happen; ****** upon him by an invisible hand or colliding with him as a result of his own forward momentum. He liked to binge eat chocolate until his stomach felt like it was going to take off like a NASA space rocket. He liked to watch NASA space rockets take off on youtube, while fidgeting with chocolate wrappers. His bedroom smelled of tomato sauce and lynx body spray; he liked it that way.
Sometimes bad things happened to Jeroen which him which made him sad, sometimes good things happened to Jeroen which made him happy and then sad again. A suitable metaphor for his emotional state could be a see-saw or a shuggy boat. Although really his emotions were much more complex and fraught than that. Jeroen was Jeroen and buckwild after all.
One day, after he’d been to the supermarket to get a baguette, a horrible meat-based spread for the baguette and a can of a horrible fizzy drink; Jeroen was cycling backwards quickly. Jeroen forgot to press his break and went flying into a pizza food truck. Jeroen was unharmed.