Tuesday, 25 June 2019

A cricket ball, Biggles and a Dalek.

I will.... (photo by Dec)

No 17.

There’s a large screen TV in the back room, two sofas, one at right angles, one facing the screen; a picture of a dog on one wall, someone’s daughter on the other.
And a Dalek.
The Dalek is plastic, it’s black, it has parts that move and it is facing anyone that sits in front of the TV.

Three people are on the sofa, they are watching a series that is a spoof of crime fiction; they don’t notice the Dalek. It’s not because the Dalek is un-noteworthy but because the spoof crime series is well written and well played. If the Dalek was real, it would have no trouble exterminating the three people should it wish to do so.

Three hours previously the Dalek had been sitting on an empty seat on a South Eastern railway carriage; and a few hours prior to that it had been on a market stall in between a cricket ball and a copy of Biggles of 266

The stall holder had asked for three quid, the Dalek purchaser had offered two and the deal had not concluded; the Dalek remained next to the cricket ball and the would be purchaser had wandered off.

He found a Bagatelle set at a very reasonable price but left it for someone else, then tried on two pairs of trousers before realising that he needed to loose weight. He looked inside the art gallery and saved several thousand pounds by not buying a splendid reproduction of Gene Kelly singing in the rain made from graffiti-ed street sign remnants and then retraced his steps and offered two pound fifty.

The seller laughed and said nothing.

The would be purchaser was embarrassed and thought that maybe he had misheard the original price.
‘I’m sorry’, he said, ‘maybe I misheard you, I thought you said three quid.’
‘I did’, the stall holder was still laughing.
‘So, two fifty is ok?’
‘It is’
And this time the deal was finalised.

When the crime spoof series ended the three people on the sofa said goodnight and went to bed; two together in each other’s arms and the other alone in the bed at the top of the house he had once shared with his wife; he didn’t sleep so well. Early in the morning he finally fell asleep so was not awake when one of the others slipped out from his lover’s arms and tip-toed down stairs where the washing=up was waiting.

In all that time the Dalek had stayed where he was, watching and waiting in a way only a Dalek or a small plastic toy can, no glowing light or soft hum betrayed life or intelligence. This was an error that could cost many people their lives.

Once the washing up was done the early riser continued with the drying up, the late sleeper finally roused himself and also entered the kitchen.

‘You ok?’
‘Not really.’
There was an awkward silence.
‘I’d love one’. 
The conversation had changed sides.
‘Lady or Earl?’

Daleks probably don’t drink tea, they are unlikely to suffer from broken hearts either; perhaps they have other problems but the one sitting at the side of the plasma screen exhibited nothing.
No heartache, no emotion.

The first tea drinker decided to go back up stairs, take a shower and force himself into another day alone; he wondered how long it would take to get used to that. Months had already passed, over a year in fact but this week his wife had returned to collect more of her stuff and the wounds had opened again; the second, unsure that he could help, decided to go out and walk into the morning.

He left the house, closing the door silently so as not to advertise his sudden absence, crossed the road, walked past the corner house with the bright orange roses and entered the woods. It was quiet here, only the sound of his footsteps and his thoughts crossed the damp path. It must have rained last night, he thought and then said hello to a man walking his dog in the other direction; the dog walker replied ‘good morning.’

The path followed the stream, then left the wood and crossed a field where a small pony stopped munching the grass and looked up.

‘Good morning,’ the walker now believed this was the correct local form of greeting and offered it to the pony.
The pony just stared.
At the end of the field there was, still is in fact, a stile and two other walkers were climbing over.
‘Good morning’

Daleks don’t have a large vocabulary; exterminate is often enough, but the one sitting on the TV chest was more taciturn than most. So it said nothing when a third person came down the stairs, entered the kitchen and brought the coffee machine into life. The Dalek listened to the sounds of espresso and the whistling of the young man. The previous night the young man had not sat on the sofa, he had chosen instead to get very stoned in the comfort of his own bedroom; consequently his dreams had been vivid.

You could not describe the Dalek as vivid; jet black would suffice. Its blackness gave it a sinister elegance that matched neatly the black border of the plasma screen TV in the living room. This concurrence of colour and strength made the Dalek look like a permanent item of the rooms decoration lending both a contrast and a pleasing juxtaposition to the painting of the dog and the daughter. This is why the walker, when he returned, forgot to take the Dalek and pack it in his luggage, something he discovered much later when his lover, now awake, was reminded by the sight of an old letter-box at the side of the road. She saw the letter-box only for a moment as the coach on which they were sitting entered the slip road and joined the motorway with all the others leaving the city.

‘You forgot the Dalek’ she said matter of fact-ly.
‘It’s ok, my brother will look after it.’
‘I know’.
‘The company will do him good.’

It will be ironic that this Dalek becomes a force for good, but if that can happen anything can and my brother=in=law will be whole once again.

NOT  formerly published in The Archives.

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