A Little Bit of Me

Jottings and Writing, miscellanous misgivings


X uses a psychological stiletto, but he’s the same kind of character, the sort of man you don’t much notice, who blends in, accepted, overlooked, left alone so that his rich secret life can flower. He was born with parts missing, and has assembled the remainder into a                     person who has borrowed from the inside to make the outside look OK.

X watched as she handed over the money to the cashier. She opened her long brown, leather, wallet and flipped it open, balancing her young son on her left shoulder. The billfold opened to show an impressive array of credit, video, and membership cards. On the facing side was a large format phot of her, her husband, and two other children. The picture had clearly been taken a while ago because the young child on her shoulder did not appear in it, and she looked younger and more ungroomed than she did now. X was careful not to stare at the phot but he took in the smiling happy family. The youngest boy was at that stage where they have started to lose baby teeth and his gap-filled grin was infectious. X felt himself warming to this family- the older girl smiling as if she had some secret she was keeping – the father, a protective arm around him wife and staring at his male progeny. X was aware of a voice as the women stuffed her purchases into a shopping cart and he suddenly jerked out of his fantasy and concentrated on the young, pimpled teenager, behind the counter.

“And will that be all for today sir?” she muttered between staring at her compatriot, two aisles down.

“ And how will we be paying for that today sir?” X looked at her and snarled his reply.

“It’s Me not fucking WE and I will be paying by EFTPOS.”

The girl did not seem to notice his anger. She probably didn’t listen to any of the customers throughout her long and tiresome day. The magic words, Credit or EFTPOS, or Cash were all she probably registered.

X committed the street address and email address to memory. When he got to his car he quickly wrote it down on the back of his purchase docket. 25 Crenshaw Avenue, sallyann@paradise.net. Perfect.

The Sunday afternoon foot-traffic was dense and bustling. Strange looking people who normally would have been confined in factories or offices during the working week now came out, like birds to feed on early worms. Hair and clothing styles that were now decades out of date seemed to be the rule.  X tried to avoid making eye contact with any of these strangers. He kept his mind focussed on the tasks ahead. Then, without warning, he was distracted. He was just hurrying past the shop window when two magnificently dressed women attracted his attention. They seemed to be suspended in time as they gazed out from the front of the large clothing store. One, in particular, took his eye and X was drawn to the window to gaze in. She stood there, her back erect and one arm outstretched as if she were asking for some coin from the gathered crowd. She had a filmy white cotton dress and a vivid red shawl wrapped delicately around her shoulder. Her eyes seemed to be fixed on X and his cheeks reddened with the unusual attention. He smiled, at her and he thought he saw a faint grin come over her face. Embarrassed by the attention he put his hands in his pocket and hurried on to his next assignation.

Over the course of the afternoon his mind kept returning to that image. He saw her limbs move and he saw that smile widen as X pressed his face against the glass. He imagined her gliding down a flight of steps and drifting over a crowded dance floor to nestle in his arms. He imagined her gently folding her dress beneath her elegant legs as she lowered herself into his exotic sports car. He had to go back to the store and find her.

He looked at the email message for the last time, checking the spelling and making sure the meaning and words were just right, before he clicked the SEND button. Yes Ms sallyann@paradise was going to get a nice surprise. His eye scanned down the email –

I would like you to know me. Really, know ME. We could have met but you may not remember me. You have a handsome husband and three? Beautiful children and a fine house. I would like you to reply to this email. I have taken the precaution of using an untraceable return address………

X wondered if he should take out the house bit. She may be offended that he had actually scouted out the location and taken photo’s of the house. Or should he just attach a digital copy of the family barbecuing in their back yard on a sunny afternoon. What was the etiquette here? Before he could answer his own question, his right hand clicked the mouse and the SEND icon flashed momentarily. It was done.

He made sure he was at the supermarket every Thursday around 4.00. That seemed to be the time when she did her weekly shopping with only the younger child in tow. He wondered where the other two went but assumed that they had friends that they could play with. He thought back through the years to his own after-school diversions and shivered. Suddenly she was in front of him, shopping cart full to the brim and, in fact, overflowing. He tried to brush past and cover his embarrassment at being caught out at such a vulnerable moment but, accidentally, his arm brushed against one of the overhanging vegetable items and suddenly he was scrambling around the floor trying to recover a head of celery. He couldn’t miss the smell of her and the whiteness of her bare legs as he slowly rose with the spoiled celery in his hand.
”I’ll go back to the produce section and get you another,” he offered but saw her uncertainty at his suggestion. “Or, I could just take it back,” he further offered but saw that she was wary of engaging with him. “And what is the little girl’s name, “ he lamely tried stretching his hand out to ruffle the infants head as she sat in the shopping trolley chair. The infant reared back and the mother pulled the trolley back, then, realising her rudeness, she stopped and looked directly at X, as if she was challenging him to do something that would warrant a complaint.

“There is no need. I have other things I have to get in that section. I’ll go back. Just pop it back on top.”

X was aware that he had her close, undivided attention and yet, and made no impression on her aside from perhaps appearing to be a clumsy oaf who could not watch where he was going.

“Nonsense! It’s the least that a gentleman could do. At least let me take the offending item back for you.”

X looks down at the occasional table in front of him and the assortment of objects. He has the photo’s of the house, the barbecue, the car, the garage, the children playing in the park, the nightime shot of the two of them, arm-in-arm, the shop window, the mannequin. He has the hairbrush, the stand of hair, the handkerchief, the head of celery. He looks to the floor and sees the discarded tennis shoe with the name inscribed in the tongue. He sees the pen with ‘Argos Pharmacy’ embossed in white on blue. X sees images of her as he touches each of the items and remembers the time and place that he came upon them. X closes his eyes and starts softly humming. It’s the theme tune from an old forgotten radio program. It could be the Paul Temple Show or it could be a popular 1950.s spy show that everyone has forgotten the name to. X looks content. Indeed X looks as if he is in a rapture.


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