THE TI, TIC, TICK.
By David Steven
What you see around you might not be what really is around you, things can look very different if you change your perspective even slightly. A simple thing can change a multitude of realities; a single action can lead to a new beginning or to total destruction. This is a story of a simple action and its effects on those around it.
THE TI, TIC, TICK.
It had been nearly ten days, ten strange, totally alien days, during which my life had been turned upside down, ripped apart and radically changed. Some, perhaps even most, thought that the alterations were definitely for the better. But now, ten long days later, I was having doubts.
I had got up this morning with a distinct feeling of loss, trying to regain some of the things that had been ripped away from me had led me to this lakeside seat; in a park, in a town, in which I no longer lived. I was hoping that the more familiar everyday sights of my previous existence (from before The Change) would ease my pain; I felt at a loss and lost. So far little was happening, but then I knew that it was still too early to meet any of my previous associates.
Ten-thirty found me wandering past the glade, following the cracked and very old tarmac pathway, which would deliver me as it had so many times before, to the place in which I hoped to regain some will to live. I sat on the old bench, feeling it creak with my weight but knowing that it would hold me once more.
Joe was the first to pass this way, and I smiled up at him watching as he approached. Joe was going to ignore me, he stepped wide to the far side of the path, obviously intending to pass on bye, when I took control and spoke to him; what I said startled Joe out of his head-down walk.
"Hi Joe, lovely day today!"
Joe looked up and across, noticing me for the first time, sitting on the bench, and now talking to him. He did not immediately recognise me, but when he did, he stopped walking; his jaw dropped open and all he could think to say to me was,
"Blooming hell, its you! What the devil happened to you, I didn't recognise you looking like that?"
"I,I,I,I Ffo,uu,nn,d sssooommme lllluuuccckkk." As usual my words would not form, so I could not answer Joe clearly, and having tried I gave up in bitter frustration.
"Well I am pleased to see you aren't dead!" Joe was never one to talk much and always had things, important things, to do; so he left me sitting as I was on the bench. I was not surprised by Joe going; being inquisitive was not a part of his makeup and wouldn't come easy to him. Coming here I decided had been a mistake, everything is different, and no matter how much I want it not to be I cannot go back. I stood, and turning away from the fast vanishing Joe I walked slowly back through the park, stopping only to purchase and to enjoy eating an ice-cream, from a vendor I knew well, before my change; but who, until I prompted him, did not recognise me.
As I sucked the last morsel of ice-cream from my cone, I had an idea and had made a decision. I left the park heading across town to a certain building, where I made certain arrangements, and then left again.
Things are going to change, I thought, I will make them change, I can do that now. With my mind made up I walked towards a side-street; entering into a charity shop and looking around until I spotted Mrs Towbridge. She bustled through into the shop from the back much as she always did, she glanced me over before approaching.
"Can I help you sir?"
I explained my needs to her, and though she looked surprised at my request, she nodded all the same. Knowing that she was quite capable of meeting them in full, I left the shop half-an- hour later, and walked towards another. In the window of this one I could see televisions sets, all lit up and flickering in an attempt to capture the attention of shoppers; trying to tempt them into making a purchase. I wanted one with a News Channel switched on, and in the far corner such a set waited for me to watch it. I did not enter the shop, deciding that being outside looking in was more appropriate; I would know when the next phase of my plan became active, if only by the shocked look on the newsreader's face.
Joe walked up and stood beside me, which was not too much of a surprise as he loved to watch the televisions through the windows. He said that they made his day and reminded him of his previous life. Joe had once or so he claimed in his more talkative moments, been a newsreader. He also claimed to be able to read lips through the glass. I often doubted his claims but a minute later he proved to me that they were true, he could.
"Well will you look at that, some rich git has donated a hell of a lot of money to charities, millions he said and then repeated before turning to face me; "bloody millions," he clarified.
We walked back to the park talking, for some reason my stutter had vanished, it sometime does but never for very long and so I told Joe my story. I told him about the ti, tic, tick, ticket I had found, my stutter was back, but I didn't really care. I had already told him about the winning lottery ticket, but that now I was back. We walked through the park, both waving at the ice-cream man, both enjoying the simple pleasure of strolling in the sunshine, just two almost invisible tramps, out enjoying their chosen lives, and as I said in the beginning, in the sunshine.
Life they say emulates fiction, in this case it just might, there are a number of tramps walking our streets, they neither desire unsolicited help, no matter how well intended, what follows is not a story, it is a memory. Sometime ago a man took a decision to live the life of the wandering hobo, he was not forced to but decided to using his free will, and so he became what might be described as professional tramps. I knew this person as well as some and better than others, he walked a given area for most of my childhood, and during that time I never found him to be a nuisance, or desiring more from our community than the occasional can of fresh water.
After his death, which I discovered by accident that this down and out as I then saw him to be, was in fact the founding father of a very large, diverse and very rich family run business, and he had decided to turn his back on the rewards he had earned, in search of something else.
What I will never know is whether he discovered his desire? What I do know is this, he lived the way he chose to live, caused no offence to anyone, and I like to think he enjoyed his life to the full.
The moral of this addition (if there is one), and I suppose the story above, is that things we encounter through our lives might not be exactly the way we perceive them to be. Who knows what secrets remain untold just because the person decides not to talk.