He was having an off day.
No reports came in.
The odds were heavily against it,
Astronomical, in fact,
But there you were,
Blue moons, black swans, a win
In a billion dollar lottery.
But it didn’t help his mood.
Perhaps he should stop wearing black.
Lighten up a little.
Wear something trendier.
T-shirt, chinos, loafers perhaps?
He had become something of a cliché.
What would his boss say?
Would he be let go? Demoted to Accounts?
He was not a pen pusher
But a man of action.
His shoulders slumped.
His scythe dropped.
He let out a sigh.
No one had died on his watch
Forgive me. I am not myself today.
I wasn’t myself yesterday either.
To tell you the truth, I’m really uncertain whether I will be myself tomorrow.
Or the next day. Or the next.
Where I’ve gone to, I just don’t know.
I have informed the police, the Missing Person’s Bureau.
They have put out an all points alert.
I take time off work.
I go looking for myself in bars, parks, in shopping malls.
I take photographs of myself to show them what I looked like.
Ugly bastard, someone quips.
Go easy, I say. He’s not a bad bloke once you get to know him.
The rest shake their heads sadly.
I go home, hang my hat on the rack and sit down morosely on the old lounge.
Ahh, there you are, I say, almost sitting on top of me.
I was here all along, he says. Where have YOU been?
She calls from one of the Northern beaches.
“We were going mad, “ she says. “We had to get out the house, You know what it’s like. You start twiddling your thumbs, staring at the wall…”
“Or even climbing it,” I add.
“Yeh, like a spider,” she says.
“Or even the ceiling.”
“Things look better from up there,” I say.
“You okay, granddad?”
“Yeh, I’m okay. You kids have a good time, Thanks for calling.”
And I crawl a little further along the ceiling. A fat, juicy fly has landed nearby. With one bound ,,,,
.Look, she says. Look. There are two moons tonight. Do you think that means anything?
Like end times, you mean?
I don’t know, she says. It can’t be good.
We move closer. There they are above the rooftops, one higher and to the right of the other.
Someone in the ranch-style house switches the porch light on and joins us.
My ex-wife phoned, he says. She saw it too. She’s bit of a sky watcher.
So we stand there out the front as one then the other veer off in a north-easterly direction, silent and glowing as moons.
For nights and nights and nights I lay on my pillow, worrying, listening to the rain, even though the skies were clear and starlit and the moon shone through my window like a lantern and I wondered what else I was hearing that wasn’t there or not hearing that was until one day I had my ears syringed with warm water and the wax flowed out in little honey-coloured clumps into a dish the nurse held for me and I no longer heard it rain except when it did.
“I am getting a half -Van Gogh,” I say over the phone.
“A half -Van Gogh? What is that?”
“You know how Van Gogh lopped off his left ear after a fit of madness, or so it’s claimed?”
“Well, I’m getting half my left ear, the lobe lopped off.”
“Why? Why would you do that?”
“You said you would love me even if I had half my face missing.”
“I know but …”
Please Wait to be Called,
The sign said
So I did.
I waited and waited
At the head of the queue
outside the pearly gates
And when, growing impatient,
I stepped forward,
St. Peter held up his hand:
“There seems to be some problem,”
“You’ll have to wait a little longer,”
I stamped my feet a little
When a light flashed overhead
& a door opened behind
& I was whooshed back
To the operating theatre where the surgeons
Had revived me
One step from paradise.