Thursday, November 16, 2006

The god of 180 degree turns

Some days, most days, you wish it would rain and rain and rain and wash all the scum from the streets. (You would not believe how much scum there is on the streets). You sit in your room all day, rocking back and forth on a small bench. The din of the city below rises up and it disgusts you but you cannot ignore it.

You have an impressive collection of fire-arms but best of all you like to polish a large butchers knife that you once found in a dumpster.

Sometimes you talk to yourself: ‘the city is a sewer pipe and I am a pipe-cleaner.’ But you do not often speak because the sound of your own voice scares you. Mostly you play heavy metal at maximum volume. Sometimes the neighbours bang on the wall and you stare in their direction and shiver.

But this particular day, there is a knock upon your door. It is the banging neighbour. He is a 54-year old dental surgeon and he is wearing a large white linen shirt.

‘Now you listen to me,’ he says officiously, wagging his finger in your face, ‘listen to me.’ He is taller than you and you know he is consciously using his height to try to intimidate you. ‘You cut out that racket at once. Your behaviour is unacceptable’. Ever since you were seven years old, when you strangled a cat, people have been telling you your behaviour is unacceptable. You can feel your hands clenching into white-hot fists. ‘If I am forced to come back and tell you this again,’ he continues, ‘I won’t be answerable for the consequences.’ And then he stalks off, leaving you alone with your thoughts.

You return to your bench and your rocking. The city is louder then ever in your ears. You sit and rock and think and stew. Finally, silently, you leave your apartment and knock on your neighbour’s apartment door.

‘I’m sorry,’ you say to him, ‘I’m sorry for the all the noise, the strange hours I keep, the hostile attitude I frequently display towards you and the other residents. I’m sorry for the loud music, which I know is awful. I’m sorry for the way I stare at you out the window. I’m sorry for the fact that I’m unemployed and that I force you to support me through your taxes. I’m sorry for the fact that I wear military khaki instead of proper clothes. I’m sorry for everything I’ve ever done that has inconvenienced you. Truly. Starting tomorrow I’m looking for a job and I’ll also take evening classes.’

He is initially taken aback but then invites you in. Over a glass of merlot, he shows you pictures of the latest model Subaru which he is thinking of buying while you listen to an Art Garfunkel record. Mmm, you think, Paul Simon really knew how to write a trenchant pop song.

Silently you say a prayer to Thail, Celtic god of 180 degree turns for getting your life in order.

Thail responds: kill him. Kill him now.

Thanks be to Thail, god of 180 degree turns!

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