Digital Ischemia

16/03/2014

Strays

Filed under: Truthache — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — Teepwriter @ 12:00

The Caretaker manoeuvres the sit-on mower beside the tumbling boundary wall of the graveyard. He carefully avoids the toppled stones. He doesn’t move them. He pauses for a break from concentration.

He’s young, 20s, and big in all directions. His size makes him seem indolent but careful observation shows him to be minimalistically methodical. His body is coasting, his mind is humming. But he’s not who I came for.

He glances up, clocks me watching him, flickers a momentary grin. An earnest 50s male invades his space with twitches.
“Okay? Do you know: is this on the Churches Trail?”
“No.”
“No, it’s not, or no, you don’t know?”
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t–”
“I don’t know about the church. Sorry.”
The Caretaker reaches down into the mower’s engine to conclude the conversation.

Mr I Spy Churches isn’t the one. He’s not who the Caretaker is interested in either. A skinny, dorky, teenage girl meanders clumsily on the opposite side of the road. Her flight plan is miscalculated to smoothly intercept the caretaker at the elegant moment after Mr I Spy departs.

She stumbles around the back of the departing Mr I Spy. The Caretaker gives her his full attention, over the wall remnants. She blushes.
“Do you–can you–do you have access to the church?”
“You want in?”
“I left–dropped something, I think, down the back of some–furniture.”

I tune to track the conversation as it recedes and passes behind the building wall. He is genuinely benevolent. She is awkward, and not just for the obvious reason. (Seeds: is that all there is?) They re-emerge.

“Thank you for helping me find it.” She clutches her fist. He purses his face indulgently.
“Will you give it back?”
She’s startled, mortified. “Back where?”
“To your mother?”
“I–I didn’t take it.”
“I know. You didn’t leave it either. You don’t attend services. Neither does she.”
For a blink of a moment she submits to a furious deduction then stalls.
He chuckles. “No, not me. She shouldn’t have done that, not in there. Not where I could see.”
Pure, childlike evil bleeds across her face. She isn’t the one. Now something could happen. I can see it.

“Have you seen this woman?”
The Caretaker’s manner verges on indifference, but, like most people, this enquirer attributes it to a feature of his size.
“No.”
The Enquirer continues to wheedle around a line of questioning. The Caretaker’s gaze remains firmly fixed on his interrogator and not on the stone wall, which, remarkably, has been neatly reassembled overnight. It’s his job to maintain the grounds.

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