Plip-plop, plip-plop came the raindrops, battering the hard pavement before racketing off and splattering onto Steve’s trousers. Steve ignored it; an ordinary man just looking for a birthday gift for his daughter. He had greying hair, what was left of it anyway, brown eyes, but not deep, attractive hazel eyes, but ugly mud-brown eyes; the sort of eyes that suited the worn battered face of Steve. He wore a long brown trench coat over a pair of jeans and a blood-red shirt, yet he wore nothing to protect his head, instead preferring to carry a large, black umbrella that was in constant danger of being stolen by the kleptomaniac winds.
So, ordinary, right?
He walked past a gaggle of young men and women, too old to be teenagers, yet, in his eyes anyway, too young to be adults. As he walked past them, they began to whisper and chuckle. A growing suspicion lurked darkly in the back of his mind: they’re laughing at me. Talking about me. Plotting. But he continued down the high street of London, desperately trying to find a present for his daughter; his five year old daughter.He noticed one shop with various toys and games in the window and smiled, perfect. He went up to the door, opened it and stepped inside. The door closed behind him with a strange click. He turned abruptly at the sound, pondering its origins, but then soon forgot about it, choosing to bury it at the back of his mind.He chose what he wanted after a few minutes looking and took it to the cash desk, noticing that the old man there had been watching him since he had entered the shop.
“That’ll be twenty five pounds please sir,” stated the shopkeeper in a vague cockney accent; one that had been worn away by years of aging, yet it was still enough to infuriate Steve.
“Ok,” muttered Steve, fishing his leather wallet out of his pocket and handing over the exact change: Steve was always very precise in his counting and placing of objects. His family found it quite strange and unsettling, but they soon got used to his “funny little ways”.
The shopkeeper bagged up the gift and handed it to Steve, always smiling, “’ere you are, sir. Have a good day.”
Steve went to walk out of the shop before the ancient shopkeeper, who was offended by “young ’uns w2ith no bleedin’ manners. Who do they think they are?” stopped him by saying pointedly, “y’know, there’s no need to be rude.”
Steve turned slowly back to the shopkeeper and crossed the short span to the cash desk and said, “There isn’t any need to watch your customers either, is there?” Then he turned back and walked away, put his handle on the doorknob. A bubbling suspicion came to the forefront of his brain he’s watching you, Steve. Steve turned back at the shopkeeper, who quickly looked away from the deranged man. That proves it, Steve. “Stop watching me!” yelled Steve, before running out of the shop and into a small back alley, where he sunk to his knees and listened to the voices in his head. They swirled around and around in his head, as did small things people had done today. That man took the same route to the shops as me...maybe he was following me. They laughed at me. They watched me. Plotting. Everyone is plotting...
He broke down in that alley and cried, big fat tears running slowly down his cheeks and dripping onto the floor in some bizarre funeral march. He looked at the pointed end of the umbrella, which he had now closed up; the rain had gone now. He felt along his neck feeling soft skin that would be easily penetrated. He put his daughter’s gift to the side, keeping it in the plastic bag, pulled a pen out of his pocket and wrote “I’m sorry, Miranda” on the bag. He took the umbrella once more, and felt the point. They shall plot no more.
He never went home that night.
But, in a spiritual sense, he did.