Several hours later me Dad came in with the umpteenth cup of tea he’d made me that day somehow managing to delicately position it on the arm of my armchair in spite of me rocking it about so much the bastarding thing was all but taking off though this time instead of taking himself off he now hypnotically swayed from heel to heel in front of me almost making me feel seasick until I finally stopped staring into thin air at videos and acknowledged yes he’d caught my attention at which point almost like he was saluting me he pronouncedly placed the back of his hand to his lips to clear his throat visually conveying to my radio deafened ears he had information to impart an unexpected development I happened to find intensely exasperating at that particular moment because the very reason I happened to be rocking so maniacally was precisely because after countless hours of endlessly playing and replaying this morning’s events and being unable to shake the sense I kept overlooking or missing something I finally felt I was closing in on if not exactly what then where ‘exactly what’ might be found hence the basilisk like glare I now aimed at him out the corner my eye implying this better be worth my resentfully ripping off an earphone and barking “Yes?”
Clearing his throat he said “I just thought you might like to know your beloved’s on the line…”
“Oh shit” I gasped “Sarah I forgot all about her! Er sorry for being so rude Dad it’s just this business from this morning’s really playing on me mind but er thanks for letting me know though!”
“That’s okay Jim” he replied before elegantly sauntering off his use of “Jim” being his cute little way of blending in as a typical working class Scouser apparently completely oblivious to how perfectly charming but also absolutely hilarious it sounded to everyone else hearing him say it in his dead deep posh plummy public schoolboy type tones.
Meanwhile out in the hall he was clearing his throat and saying “He’s on his way…” then plonking down the surprisingly heavy sounding receiver on the large old fashioned linen chest we used as a phone stand hence my now hurrying to disentangle myself from the earphone cable caught up in the hi fi before rushing out to snatch it up and splutter “Sarah? Sorry didn’t ring back…kept meaning to but got caught up playing all these blasted videos of all this weird mindblowing shit that happened to me this morning and I simply didn’t realise the time.”
Actually it was slightly more complicated than that and a darn sight odder because after abandoning my wristwatch in disgust for refusing to behave as if it was on the blink I’d resorted to using the daylight from the window to give me a general sense of the time but rather peculiarly I kept thinking it was much later than it was because out the corner my eye daytime kept looking exactly like midnight for some mysterious reason though I sort of half convinced myself it was merely the overcast weather conditions until it finally became nighttime and suddenly nighttime started looking like midday lulling me into a false sense I still had plenty o’time to call Sarah.
“That’s okay” Sarah now said in a somehow alarmingly brusque manner “I imagined something like that” but when I now attempted to tell her what happened she abruptly cut me off and said “Listen I can’t stay on long I hadn’t exactly been planning to talk to you in the first place just hoping to leave a message in case you rang after I went out so you’d avoid a grilling from me Dad but y’Dad didn’t give me a chance to explain...”
“You’re going out?” I all but whispered try’n’o supress any signs of the distinct sense of panic now welling up in me as I recalled my fear the part time job she’d recently taken as a photo-spotter at an industrial photography developers might lead to her going out with her newfound workmates and maybe becoming involved with someone. “Wha’ you mean a Christmas works outing type o’thing?”
“No that’s in a fortnight this’s just me goin’ for a drink with Eddy.”
“Eddy?” I exclaimed momentarily calming myself by pointing out Eddy could just as easily be short for Edith until it occurred to me Edith could be some exotic bisexual Goth about to get Sarah drunk and turn her lesbian though realising I was in danger of plunging off the cliff of sheer stark raving insanity if I didn’t immediately slam on the brakes on that particular line of thought I managed to sufficiently recover to decide the best plan would be to affect nonchalance and indifference by exquisitely modulating my already naturally high voice so it didn’t betray me by attaining the sort of helium addict’s sharpness of pitch even the ears of Krypto the Superdog’d struggle to hear except in the very next breath I sounded like an adolescent whose voice’s breaking as I hoarsely squeaked “Who the hell’s Eddy?”
“Oh you know Eddy I told you all about him. He’s just our dead cheeky Jack the lad postman…”
Ye’ but the postman she mentioned sounded like some hideously deformed toothless bent over double geriatric pensioner reduced to doing real life Quasimodo impressions due to the weight of his mailbag whereas this Eddy guy sounded like some absolutely hilarious handsome hunk who did his round in the actual Aston Martin driven by the real life James Bond not to mention she already sounded half in love with the swine. “You’re going on a date with your postman?” I shrilly exclaimed genuinely shocked at the withering derision in my voice because as far as I was concerned being a postman was a perfectly honourable profession for anyone not called Eddy yet saying that I still hoped I’d been sufficiently withering to actually put her off the bastard.
“NOT a DATE a DRINK!” she snapped “Anyway there’s no need to worry it’s nothing serious” her tone momentarily more conciliatory until she now started scolding me “But this’s exactly what pisses me off about you you’re supposed to be me bezzy buddy so I’m supposed to be able to talk to y’about stuff like this without havin’ t’worry about upsettin’ y’ all the time! Anyway I’ve got’o go now because he’ll be here any minute and I deserve a nice long soak after the day I’ve been put through by a certain pisshead and I want him as far away from here as possible before me stupid drunk of a Father staggers back from the pub and goes into his usual Police sergeant third degree routine!” and to my complete shock she hung up leaving me both mortified and utterly bereft because not only’d it been our shortest ever conversation but since the day she’d first surprised me by spontaneously giving me her number it was the only time she’d ever hung up on me!
Utterly bewildered I now staggered in the general direction of what I hoped was the bank of light switches on the hall wall my head reeling as if I’d been walloped with a baseball bat all but blind to where I was actually going due to the image of a postman’s uniform strewn across a bedroom floor looming large on the air before my anguished eyes which was probably why it took me so look to realise the source of that oddly familiar clicking sound in the background was actually me mindlessly flicking the light switch up and down waiting for the landing light to blaze into life until it finally dawned on me it wasn’t working though paradoxically my initial horror was quickly replaced by a curious sense of relief because my fear of the dark now provided me with a useful distraction if I was ever to get upstairs and bare my soul to Adrian until half way up I now spotted his bedroom door was not only firmly closed but his light was off suggesting he must’ve spent Saturday as he usually did losing all his money in the bookies before punishing himself by shovelling a grease drenched frying pan’s worth of semi-frozen semi-scorched food down his gob by way of catastrophically shutting his brain down for the night meaning not only wouldn’t I be getting to use him to alleviate the latest batch of Sarah related stress and anguish but he wouldn’t be standing-in as the sounding board I’d hoped Sarah’d provide me with to get a more objective perspective on this morning’s events.
And when I now spotted someone’d actually removed the landing light this only seemed to confirm Adrian very definitely didn’t want to be disturbed hence utterly miserable I now staggered back down the stairs into the parlour thinking what an absolutely stinking horrible day and what an even more stinking horrible night because I knew perfectly well there was absolutely no way I’d be getting any sleep though by way of a pathetic consolation prize I reminded myself at least it was a Saturday which meant while every other bastarding bastard on the planet was having the time of their lives with Sarah I’d be listening to a much wider menu of more sophisticated dance and rock music. Yippee!
And hardly’d I started rocking than I was back outside the Sandwich Shop again this time accompanied by a dim flash of video of me walking down London Road with my fellow book hunting best mate Ali as we passed a display of somehow familiar esoteric books in a very similar side window only the books in this display’d appeared anything but yellow or dusty implying if it really was the same window display it’d have to’ve been quite a few years earlier and I could even remember Ali who while thoroughly unconvinced of the relevance of such esoteric materials himself being thoroughly surprised when I now declined his rather gentlemanly invitation to investigate further because something’d seemed to prompt me to put the whole thing out my mind possibly explaining why the video was not only so dim but’d taken me so long to recall.
And it was while I was dwelling on what exactly the nature of this prompter or prompting mechanism might be that an ear shattering thunderclap like brassy K-TCHING! rang out as a police officer wreathed in steam came hurtling out the Sandwich Shop door his hands and arms overcrowded with plain white paper bags stuffed with hot food and boiling cartons of soup and for a moment it was as if I wasn’t just remembering what happened but I was actually right back there and then at that very instant in time hence I all but literally evacuated the contents of my bowels at the thought I was about to be arrested for perving up the girls serving in the shop until it now occurred to me what if that police officer was actually Sarah’s Police sergeant Dad and my persistent presentiment the pair of us were eventually go’n’o meet’d unwittingly come true?
But mulling this possibility over now caused me to drop my guard and the police officer’s uniform now suddenly morphed into a postman’s strewn across a bedroom floor causing me to all but double over in excruciating physical and mental pain at the thought something along those lines might be happening right that very moment and even while I was sitting there trying to maintain the momentum of my rocking I could be in the process of losing Sarah forever the irony being of course only hours before when I’d been Dark Alan I’d actually relished the idea of being permanently free of her hence my almost bitter laughter at the sheer cosmic joke of it all until suddenly I was somehow back outside in the hall again standing beside the phone listening to Sarah’s earlier observation “there’s no need to worry it’s nothing serious” only whereas previously it’d seemed like a mere throwaway patronising remark it now seemed to become a secret message or link planted in the conversation not for the me listening at the time but the me sitting there right now rocking away and reliving it enabling some other infinitely older immensely wiser much more intensely real Sarah who’d somehow foreseen this moment to speak to me directly by way of telling me to cut the crap and stop arsing about worrying about stuff that was never go’n’o happen and wouldn’t’ve mattered even if it had and to get the hell on with remembering what really happened in the Sandwich Shop.