A Monday Morning | Edward Mc Whinney
It was a horrible morning. When I looked out I saw the telegraph poles but not the wires running between. I heard a scream from the river, then the gulls rising up screeching. I heard the gulls above the throbbing sound of the trombone through the wall. My neighbour whom I have hardly seen more than once, practising. The one time I saw him he was dressed in a dinner suit under a heavy chrombie overcoat and stepping into a taxi on the quay. Throbbing trombone. Thrombosis. I see all the people walking along towards the bridge, but not one face. I think I'm more aware of the fleeting nature of things than most people. I no longer look in mirrors. I have a dog. That's it for living relationships. Last week I saw a group of people gathered at the quay wall. It emerged that there was a body caught up in a snag under a jetty. I elbowed my way into a space and caught a glimpse of a bloated corpse, its clothes billowing around a puffed up fish-belly white remains of a face. Come on Joseph I said, we'll keep going. He was sniffing at the base of a stanchion that holds up a life buoy, red and white. As we rambled along the quay the gulls rose again with their infernal row, screeching like hysterical girls. I bought the newspaper from Stanley at the corner of Winthrop St. He had a certain dry husp in his throat. You have it Stanley, I said. What, he said? The bird flu. No, he said, out on the tear last night, dying this morning. A stray terrier of some kind approached us outside the G.P.O. Joseph instantly stiffened into fighting mode, baring his teeth, straining at the leash. The stray terrier moved on throwing a cautious look of concern over his shoulder. The time for fighting is over, Joseph, I said. No more fisticuffs. Too damned tired to fight.
I stood at the Prince's Street entrance to the English Market, a good location to watch the swarms of workers rushing right through you like the river of time flowing endlessly down to the sea. You can watch and think the thoughts you have no one to share with, like how at 5.15 a.m. a man slipped through a crevice as tight as a fairy's crack, into a room full of photographs, another man's life, a sensation that normally lasts an insignificant duration, a mere fraction of a second to be forgotten as if not even registered on the normal level of consciousness, a mote of dust in daylight, only this time he does not slip back at all but remains there like a man with amnesia, gazing at the photographs of his family, strangers to his bosom, his face in the mirror as familiar as the wallpaper, groping in the darkness for the crevice, longing to escape because he is someone else, yet, here a door opens and a young woman in her early twenties, quite attractive if in a sort of plain way, his daughter, the photos have informed him, wearing only a short pink negligee, hugs him and remains for some minutes with her arms around him, soft body, telling him something intimate as he restrains the impulse to pull away, and next his wife like another version of this young woman only in her early fifties repeats this affectionate pose while he continues to sit bewildered at the table, until in an instant she seems to sense the strangeness and stiffens into an alarmed attitude, sits on a chair, begins a wary conversation. Is something the matter, what's amiss, you don't seem yourself, and he wishes to explain but how? He might have been in an accident and bumped his head or something like that. Two men met in the entrance to the Market. They spoke of the weekend gone by, the money they spent, the drink they consumed, the shadows that consumed them. On the way home Joseph was very lively in himself, barking up dead end streets, the age-old struggle taking its toll. Come on Joseph, there's nothing there boy. Come on.
An Ordinary Day >