This Is Me
It started in a Marks and Spencer café. I was thinking about what to write. The title was ‘This Is Me.’ I’m not even sure who I am anymore. I looked around to find someone who looked interesting; for inspiration. I mean after-all, it’s a writer’s prerogative to exaggerate. Now I know I have a pretty wild imagination but as I watched people eating, chatting, reading, surfing, snoozing trying to find a suitable subject, I realised I had no idea what was really happening in their lives. And vice-versa.
Then it happened, hand on my heart. And I’m not paranoid or delusional or mercurial. But I heard it. A ticking….and others heard it, I’m sure. I was drinking a ‘De-Caf Americano,’ so to be fair I’d taken precautions. But as I sat there observing I felt the atmosphere change.
I noticed the looks, the glances, whispering staff, the tables gradually clearing around me. People trying not to look worried or hurried.
Do you remember I said I ordered ‘De-Caf’? I was thinking maybe they had given me a fully loaded coffee. It’s happened before. It’s like the beginning of a Mission Impossible film, but that is where the similarity between myself and Tom Cruise ends.
No one wants to be around a lighted fuse, not even me. It was ironic because the collateral damage would be negligible. Obviously they didn’t know this.
Anyway, I tried to act nonchalantly. A mother grabbed her child, aged about four. He was crying because his mother had left his toy on the table. I picked it up, a small wind-up toy, and called after her. She ignored me. I decided I would have to leave too. My mind was wandering. But then I saw him. The space-man.
I waved my hand in front of my face, but it moved ordinarily and certainly quicker than the space man. As the figure approached I could see it wasn’t a space-man. It was wearing a white Kevlar advanced bomb disposal suit and protective helmet. It was like a scene out of the Hurt Locker. I got up to leave with the other customers. As I placed my writers notebook in my satchel I realised he was standing in front of me.
‘I’m sorry to have to tell you, but there is a bomb,’ he said.
‘Oh God,’ I replied. ‘Well I’m just leaving.’
‘You can’t leave,’ he said.
I realised I was in the line of fire. I didn’t panic. “Can’t you defuse it?”
‘We need more time, we’re working on it.’
‘I feel like I’m in a film,’ I said.
‘Well,’ he replied. ‘They say all the worlds a stage.’
‘Well, if I’ve got to wait, I might as well have another coffee,’ I said.
‘Is that a good idea?’ he asked. ‘I mean, is it a good idea for you to drink coffee?’
‘I can put my hand on heart and swear I asked for ‘De-Caf,’ I replied. ‘So, why can’t I leave?’
‘Because the bombs inside you.’
‘Damn,’ I replied. ‘Can’t you just take it out? I mean you’re the professionals.’
‘Your best bet is to wait,’ he said. ‘Just to be on the safe side.’
‘How long do I wait?’ I asked. But he’d gone. So I sat down.
‘Excuse me,’ said a lady from the café. ‘We’re closed now.’
I placed my pen in my shirt pocket realising I hadn’t come up with any meaningful ideas for a story. It happens sometimes, writers block.
I left the café thinking it probably wasn’t ‘De-Caf’ I’d been supping, which may explain the loud ticking. I know the signs by now. It’s not an issue to you. If it went off it wouldn’t affect anyone else. No one would even know. It wouldn’t be a spectacular explosion, no blood fest, like in a film, no stunt double. No, this would be a very personal affair, most of the action occurring on location deep inside my chest.
It’s not all bad news, after-all I’ve been assured that if I survive the surgery and with the addition of my new bionic bits and pieces, I’ll be able to run at 100mph and jump over buildings. It is possible that the surgeon was being ironic of course.
Anyway, its good news really, I realised this is me, a ‘wannabe writer’ with a vivid imagination and one foot in the grave. So I’ll keep on writing, using my imagination, keeping calm, hoping the storm has passed. But, I know fate and he’s a film buff. The crisis may have abated but he’s coming back. Fate loves a drama.
With thanks to Heidi Conroy