Why shouldn’t he talk to himself? He’s a grown man and has earned the right, purely by breathing his way through the years, to talk to whoever he wants. Just because he chooses not to talk to you and me, doesn’t make him less of a character.
He has yellow hair. I guess you would call it blond, but it’s more like yellow. It goes well with his red jumper – the kind made famous by, or perhaps the one that escaped from and is still in the style forsaken by Woodstock. But his bleached-blond-yellow hair is more suited to the punk revolution that blew all that hippy shit out of the water.
There’s a kind of frailty to his face that suggests he won’t be around too long, but I’m sure he’s looked like that for years. He looked that way when I included him in my first novel, and that was written a number of years back. I had him in a crowd scene at the snooker tournament at the local WMC. He did fine. Never said a word – not to himself or anyone else. What would I have had him say in such a foreign land?
He doesn’t seem to go far. He passes in and out of the doorway of a house that I think probably holds a collection of flats. I don’t take much notice really so perhaps the flats are private, or perhaps the building belongs to the school that sits on the same street. Perhaps he even works there, although I can’t imagine that he would be allowed to be around the children. Too much potential for him to scare them. Frightening small children seems to be what his face is made for, but then again – appearances are deceptive.
There was this one time that I heard him talk to someone else. I was buying a pizza, across from the building in which he may or may not live. He came in and ordered some food. He sounded intelligible and sensible. His words made sense, and he even made some kind of a lame joke. I remember being surprised that he seemed so together. He stood waiting for his food and I stood and waited for mine. I could have started a conversation, and I’m not really sure what stopped me. Perhaps, at the root of it all, I didn’t want to take away the mystique that surrounded him.
He stands tall – more than six feet, and he’s rather gangly. He looks like he pays less attention to food than he does to the cigarettes he rolls himself and then smokes whilst sat on the steps in front of his house. All of his clothes – not just the Woodstock jumper, would suit a jester rather well. The only thing missing from this ensemble is the three-horned hat with the bells on the end. But if he is wearing one of those the next time I see him, I won’t be too surprised. He walks around as if he has somewhere to go. As if he is walking there on purpose. I wonder to myself what his purpose is. I wonder if he has a purpose. I wonder if he knows whether or not he has a purpose.
I smile at him in passing and I always try to catch his eyes. Sometimes I almost lock on, but it’s an illusion. His gaze slips on and past me. I doubt that he even sees me. When I get a little more adept at exploring my own inner worlds, I’ll be able to meet him there, because I know for sure that he doesn’t live in this one. There will be a meeting, but only when I can get deep enough inside my mind to cross the bridge into his. On that day, which will be neither day nor night, and in that place, which will be neither here nor there, we will have a conversation, which will be neither deep nor shallow. Our language will be one without words, but we will understand each other perfectly. Clothes and hair will be unimportant and height will have nothing to do with the ground.
But let’s be honest here. I will no more meet him than you will. I have an aversion to meeting people in reality. If he were a person on the end of an internet connection, we would be best friends. I would say wise, wonderful and silly things and he would open his mouth wide with astonishment, tell me that I am the most interesting person in the whole world and would laugh when he should be eating, smile when he should be walking around, be awake when sleep should take him and take virtual breaths when all the while his lungs would be collapsing inside him from never having been filled with the fresh air of a life spent well in the company of good and clever people who walk the streets, day after day, hiding inside themselves, never getting to the real point of all that we have been given, and that is to love, love, love as if love were never ending.