If you had seen him jabbering out the window like that, scratching his beard like that, his eyebrows leaping and ducking in a wild formless polka, extending one authoritative digit yellowed with the years, channeling the stream of syllables and saliva that dripped from his maw; if you had encountered him in the act of this strenous and senseless exercise, well, I think you would have smiled. Even if only a dimple deepened as you cast down your eyes to avoid contact, fearing the lash of his madness redirected from the-world-at-large to you-in-particular. Nonetheless you would have found it amusing. Not funny, but absurd—funny in the absence of any intention. And absurd not because of his antics, which out on the street would have been merely commonplace and tragic, but because his antics were captured in a frame. Like a portrait demonically animated he peered out from the wall and gabbled.
He sensed your conjectured smile with the perception of those who are poorly earthed, and snapped to his feet. Casting a leg over the sill, he gingerly (with both hands) hurdled it, landing shuddering in the flowerbed. And frowning momentarily in the direction of the window, ambled out to the picket gate, hoisting high his trousers as he went.
Since you had momentarily disappeared from his narrative, he addressed the approaching Mara, saying meat pie. Hello Pie-man sang Mara. A meat pie he insisted. Would you like a flower sang Mara. His eyes narrowed. That's my flower. Yes whispered Mara, you weren't using it, it grew on the fence despite you. His eyes, which had continued to narrow, now crossed and continued along their axes, far past Mara's head. Wiv sauce. Apricot sauce, queried Mara. Tomata sauce. Yuck, sang Mara, apple pie with tomato sauce? He spat, and gazed down at it, the ghostly forest on his head jiggling. A meat pie, he contended. Tomata sauce. Mara laughed, a too-delicate trill; he pawed the drool from his lips. Then he turned, and Mara turned, and she swung her backpack to the other shoulder and bounced down the street, and he climbed into his window.
The mad do this, it's their Midas touch; drawing you imperceptibly into their universe—more, disastrously, their rules of grammar and the rhythm of their whimsy.
You there, cackling in the gutter on the other side of the street, cast down your imagined eyes; he hears you beneath his simpering, and tempts you with the thought of dinner. It is only a short step from there. Each precipice is a short human step.
Joseph | 5 Aug 2004