The man with the ivory cane

This is the actual piece of writing that I submitted for the first assignment, minus the tutor’s comments. I hope that you like it.

I call myself Ian; so do those that know me; especially my parents. In fact they were the first people to start calling me by that name; and it just stuck.

Today is unlike any other Monday in my recent memory: my mood is somehow different; visually, things seem to be much larger and brighter, and the strangeness that I’m feeling is giving me a heightened sense of awareness; even the morning twilight – dark and miserable at this time of year – seems much more lucid than normal.

The combined acts of closing my front door and turning the key from left to right officially signal the start of working week. Today, however, for the first time in a long time I can’t help noticing a difference in my surroundings: a strange car is parked on the opposite side of the road, Mrs Spangler’s Toyota Corolla has an out-of-date tax disc, the lack of twittering birds on the rooftops. I can even smell the damp, wet road surface.

As I pull into my local Tesco Express, park up and walk towards the entrance, I’m drawn towards the view through the shop window. As I peer inside, I notice an anomaly: people are scurrying up and down the aisles chatting and greeting each other, all the latest offers are on display, the staff are smiling and cheerful. The place seems bright and alive, unlike the usual Monday Morning Blues that normally greets me. Am I in the wrong place? Are my heightened senses making me see things differently?

The chatter of a flock of Starlings drowns out the sound of the morning traffic, as I gaze through the shop window, before existing the store. Damn birds! What a racket. I’m not sure what they are arguing over, or if they can even hear each other above the sound of their deafening din. Do they even speak the same language? Something is definitely odd about me today.

As I sink into the driver’s seat of my trusty Honda Civic, I notice that dry sensation of the mouth: that temporary early morning xerostomia, more commonly known as Dry mouth – that like a barren stretch of desert offers up no moisture. The effervescing sound of thousands of tiny bubbles and a sickly, sweet smell pervades the air, as I instinctively yank back the ring pull and take a gluttonous gulp of the icy cold energy drink, help tightly in my palm. The pleasant aroma charging up my nostrils reminds me of Calpol, and brings back a long forgotten childhood memory: that of mummy giving me cough medicine to help my poorly throat get better, and to help me to sleep.

My reverie is brought sharply to an end by the sharp shrill of a car horn. That’s when I see Dave Green, my neighbour, arguing with the driver of a red car. The black look that Dave is giving the driver is second only to the morning weather: a miserable day with thick grey clouds covering the horizon from east to west like a duvet smothering a bed. I notice that he’s immaculately dressed in blue trousers, blue shirt, white plimsolls, and a navy blue blazer. It strikes me, however, that for a man in his early thirties his dress sense is somewhat eccentric – to be honest, his attire would fit right in with the boating brigade at Henley Regatta. As he hobbles along, I can see the look of determination etched across his brow, like that of the tight rope walker, nervously crossing the Niagara. He once told me that he was in a motorbike accident that left him with a permanent limp. I can’t help thinking to myself that the end result isn’t pleasant on the eye, as I morbidly stare at his slow, tortured way of walking.

I’ve known Dave for some time now: at least ten years, maybe even longer, but who can be sure of these things. However, what I am sure of is that as far as neighbours go, he is the best kind: a solitary soul who keeps himself to himself; just the way I like it. Luckily for me he isn’t one of those annoying sugar-borrowing types, but he does have a downside: he’s a smoker and he likes to practise his hobby. Oh yes, he likes to practise his hobby all right! The sickly stench often seeps through my cavity walls, much like a fart manages to escape through water. Given a choice I’d’ much rather not be a passive smoker. After all look at poor Roy Walker – God bless his soul. Every day, Dave makes the tortuous trip to the local Tesco to buy, what he professes to be his only vice, twenty Lambert and Butler. Oh bugger, he’s on his way over. His peculiar odour precedes him: an eclectic mix of cheap aftershave – Old Spice I think? – Tobacco and chip shop food. It’s something of a paradox, how someone so dapper would deliberately want to smell like a working men’s club over a busy bank-holiday weekend.

‘Alright Dave, how’s things with you today?’ I ask, despite already knowing the answer.

‘Could be better, Ian! That d*** head in the red Ford Focus has just beeped his horn at me, just because I couldn’t get across the road quickly enough.’

‘Never mind, hey! The world’s full of morons; don’t worry about it. I’m off to work. See you later.’

‘Yeah, catch ya later. I’m gonna get 20 cigs, a paper and some Valium,’ – It’s good to see he hasn’t lost his sense of humour.

A cold shudder suddenly hits me, as I realise that something is amiss. As I watch his shovel-like hand grasping the top of his ivory cane, the image before me is so clear, so vivid, like a room lit by a thousand candles; he’s gripping the cane with the wrong hand. I’m sure that he’s a lefty. Come to think of it, he’s hobbling with the wrong leg.

About Sean

I live in my own thoughts, chat to imaginary friends, and survive primarily on Snickers and Nescafe. I work full-time and study part-time for a BA in English Literature with the OU. Home is the North West of England, and my heroes are those authors that can make miracles out of paper and words…… “The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.” – Mark Twain.
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