Forgive me. I am not myself today.
I wasn’t myself yesterday either.
To tell you the truth, I’m really uncertain whether I will be myself tomorrow.
Or the next day. Or the next.
Where I’ve gone to, I just don’t know.
I have informed the police, the Missing Person’s Bureau.
They have put out an all points alert.
I take time off work.
I go looking for myself in bars, parks, in shopping malls.
I take photographs of myself to show them what I looked like.
Ugly bastard, someone quips.
Go easy, I say. He’s not a bad bloke once you get to know him.
The rest shake their heads sadly.
I go home, hang my hat on the rack and sit down morosely on the old lounge.
Ahh, there you are, I say, almost sitting on top of me.
I was here all along, he says. Where have YOU been?
.Look, she says. Look. There are two moons tonight. Do you think that means anything?
Like end times, you mean?
I don’t know, she says. It can’t be good.
We move closer. There they are above the rooftops, one higher and to the right of the other.
Someone in the ranch-style house switches the porch light on and joins us.
My ex-wife phoned, he says. She saw it too. She’s bit of a sky watcher.
So we stand there out the front as one then the other veer off in a north-easterly direction, silent and glowing as moons.
For nights and nights and nights I lay on my pillow, worrying, listening to the rain, even though the skies were clear and starlit and the moon shone through my window like a lantern and I wondered what else I was hearing that wasn’t there or not hearing that was until one day I had my ears syringed with warm water and the wax flowed out in little honey-coloured clumps into a dish the nurse held for me and I no longer heard it rain except when it did.
There was someone on the bridge
Curving high over the dark water
About half way along
Then there wasn’t.
Someone with a mop of ginger hair
an orange top and grey track pants
Standing against the railing
Looking wistfully out.
I looked away when a siren sounded
On the headland then looked back.
No disturbance of any kind.
No bright lithe form spearing
Through the water.
No one emerging from either end.
Just someone standing on a bridge
in a forest
Then there wasn’t.
I met him on a winding path beneath the bridge
leading to the zoo. I had lost my girl. He had lost
the plot though I did not know it then.
We talked briefly beside the banisters as a blue
Kayak passed us by. Before his accomplishments —
his CV baggy with published poems — I
was lost for words. I blubbered something
about his latest book. “Take care,” I remember him
saying. “He’s always had his head in the clouds”,
a fellow poet once said of him. Perhaps that’s why
a week later he climbed to the roof of a big city hotel
and stepped off.
He laughed loudly.
A door closed behind him.
He laughed more loudly still.
Another door closed behind him. Slammed!
He continued. He chortled. He guffawed. He split his sides.
A text message came through.
“Will you STOP laughing, please? You’re annoying me.”
No, he said to himself. No. It’s my house and I’ll laugh if I want to.
And he laughed even more loudly.
The walls laughed with him. They too were beginning to split their sides.
A door opened quietly behind him.
The man was too busy laughing to notice.
He stifled his laughter as the cord tightened around his throat.
This was no laughing matter.
Shelby was disgusted.
She would sleep that night in the refrigerator.
She admired its stern solidity.
At least the mice couldn’t get to her.
And if she felt like a midnight snack, she wouldn’t have far to go.
She hopped in.
It wasn’t long before her teeth began chattering. That would keep her awake. Give her away if he was still in the house.
So she bit down on a leg of lamb.
That seemed to work.
She drifted off dreaming of sheep in thick woolen jumpers serially hurdling fences.