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February 11, 2013
I wanted to draw the dog man, but he got away from me.

I want to draw the dog man, but he gets away from me.

 

I wake all at once the next morning.  Having turned in at a sensible time, the sun is well up.  Fresh and beaming.  Not me though, I stayed up until the nonsense hours where there’s pinpoint minutes of warmth and glow and fizz with blur and darkness around the edges.  It was wonderful.

Uurgh.  Right. Inch out of bed, moan and flail until I mostly have feet pointed at the ground and head towards the ceiling.  Pitch towards the bathroom sink and drink blood volume in water from cupped hands.  Another hands-full to the face, and I can stand upright.

Gah – oh, mirror.

Right.  Not bad.  It’s the weekend, most of the day still ahead.  I can still be productive.  Get some good writing done.

My reflection blinks unevenly at me.  Coffee.

I eye the Nescafe, and skirt around it.  Keys, and out the door.  Car.   Find some coffee and a fresh perspective to inspire writing.

 

At a café somewhere I’ve never been before, I claim a table against the outside wall.  Place my phone, kindle, compact mirror, and one earring on the table.  Rearrange the sugar, salt, pepper and table number. Lean back, tuck up a knee to hold my laptop.  With my workspace oriented, and strong coffee and bruschetta – breakfast I can pick at one-handed – I settle into a slow morning of people-watching and writing.

By the end of my coffee, I’m absorbed in a puzzle game.  I pick up and replace the cold cup a few times before I look up to hail a waitress.

There’s a man standing there.  Right there.  Watching me.  He’s wearing a suit, and a coat regardless of the sun.

My knee drops and I sit to attention.  “Hi?”

He barks at me.  He has a dog’s head.

“Can I help you?”

He glances down the street and back, and emits a low whine.

“I’m sorry, I don’t understand.”

He takes a step away, turns half back, switches his – he has a tail.

“I – Alright, I suppose I’m not really doing anything today.  Give me a sec.”  I collapse my spread-out things  back into my bag.  “Alright.”

He nods, and takes off.  I start after him; he stops, looks back to make sure I’m still following.  Curiosity tugs me along, caution slows me back down.  He dashes, pauses, watches; I follow down the street.

Pedestrians turn into crowds turn into throngs.  He’s leading me through a market and I have to scan all around to find his face again amongst the colours, shapes, movement.  A bark, the wrong way? I turn, but no, that’s a dog on a leash, trailing from a feathered hand.   A suit, but no, the rat’s face turns and glances by me before I can reach out. There! – no, a mask, a performer, two, a whole troupe, coming through.  The music and thrum drowns me. Feathered, scaled, furred, suited; bodies knock me, turn me, stifle me down. Submerged, I forge left, right, around, and get nowhere.  I can’t see the dog man.

Need space.  A break, dive through, stumble into – no more crowd.

Over my shoulder, the crowd is a mass, formless, faceless; all their backs seem turned.  Its colours are blurred and run.  Its rumble is muted, indistinct; a poorly tuned radio.

Forward, there’s an alley, overlookable between two quirked shopfronts, darkening towards night down the far end, and there! – there he is.

Questions weight my heels.  I creep, no faster, into the alley.  The gloom thickens, muffling my steps.  I peer through the stillness but I can’t tell if the dog man is looking in my direction or the other way.  He’s standing at a doorway.

I’m close enough to whisper, no louder, but I don’t before he pulls the door half open and slips through.  The door swings closed, I quicken to grab at it but it pulls shut; stale air cuffs me, shadows eddy, then still.

I reach out to the handle, pause.  There’s a key still in the lock.  Why is this door hidden?  Why is it unlocked?  Where does it go – what will happen if I go through – is it hidden or just overlooked – who is this dog man anyway?  I swallow a breath, and tug the door open

and squint back the sunlight.  A bright street; people hurry, glide, flutter, flock, up and down about their business.  I can see my car where I parked it.

Huh.

I should be writing, but after that odd chase, I think I’ll go home, and unwind.

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