85

“You are a good person.”

“How can you tell?”

It is 10:30am and I am in my local Maxima (XX) where I have come to purchase coffee liqueur (in reality it is 6:17am, having woken up at 5:22am, having slept terribly again).

My drinking (I refuse to call it alcoholism, although that is what it is) has finally spilled over into the daytime. Every afternoon (usually between 2–3pm) I make a cup of coffee just so I can add a cascading splash of coffee liqueur.

I have come early to avoid long queues (and the attendant risk of sweating that induces). Luckily, the store is almost empty and I can pay immediately. The cashier is my favourite of the underpaid, underused and undervalued souls manning the profit sluices. She is probably in her early 40s and looks like she has had a hard life. Her face – that crude map leading to our inevitable misidentification – looks drained of vitality, her ideals crumpled up in its folds. But she is always genuinely friendly as you (and your lucre) swish by. I am taken aback by the sincerity of her smile and the warmth of her gaze. Her materteral (aunt-like) congeniality is so reassuring that I suddenly feel at home, in my skin, by the checkout. It is not the exaggerated, performance-based friendliness enforced by many chain stores. Nor is it the overfamiliar, we’re-all-in-this-together, scattershot chattiness one endures in British supermarkets. I am in awe of this woman as I reach into my pocket for a medium of exchange in the form of coins…

“You are a good person…”

“How can you tell?”

You can’t.

The cold is my friend.

It warms you in the end.

Eidolon, ignis fatuus, wordy flatulus.

Nutshells, in a people.

Words not of themselves, atavistic urges bound to symbols posturing as meaning and reason, groping towards the light at the end of the tunnel vision that funnelled hope into syntax and relapsed into ancient errors mistook for eros and tremor-sized terrors levelled the fields and the yields were so great that fate reconfigured itself for the digital age.

Blah.

He’ll go far, that one.

The cursor flashes

A stick figure ‘I’

Panting with despair.

 

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