When he talks, and he is not talking now, he follows everything he says with “as they say.” It gives the impression that he is a plunderer of historical utterances, a grand collator with unexpressed thoughts of his own not worthy in relation.
When he was eight, the postman left his post-bag on a step. He took it without thinking and ran. Even now, he knows he took the bag, he just doesn’t like to admit it. If he were being interrogated, he thinks, by a man wearing a rubber suit, he would admit nothing.
He wonders if the chef is a man or a woman. He wonders if friendship or other relations might be possible.
He holds his chopsticks firmly. He imagines what factor his power would be increased by if they were sharp. He imagines the half-size pencil sharpener that would be required to sharpen them, and then he imagines that all the objects in the world are half-size. He even imagines that qualities are reduced by a half, such as courage.
The expression “wonderful nosh” pops into his head, and he says it quietly, his reaction to a mouthful. He is reassured.
He pictures the waitress as if she were two-dimensional. He closes one eye so she is flat, like a cutout.
He thinks about how imminent a faux-pas seems, how easily he could spill, accidentally stab, or under-tip. He imagines the man in the rubber suit again, except instead of interrogating him now he’s coming at him with rubber tongs.
Three minutes elapse.
He imagines the waitress has presented the bill to him, even though he is still on the main course. He imagines the waitress has added a zero to the total, perhaps as a scam or perhaps by accident. The total would be out by a factor of ten. He can’t ascertain from his chair the level of sophistication needed to work that out, to work out that the total would be out by a factor of ten. Would the waitress be able to put it like that? Or the chef?
Fifteen minutes elapse, and he decides against coffee, pays the bill and wanders home. The possibility occurs to him that he’ll forget where he lives and stumble upon a cathedral that offers him shelter. The possibility occurs to him that the inside of the cathedral is made of rubber. Will there be orbiting angels, decked out in rubber, with rubber haloes pinched by rubber tongs? The possibility occurs to him. The altar has some bounce to it.
He falls asleep alone in a double bed. He sleeps always on the left, near the door. The other side of his bed is flat, pristine. He read once in a women’s magazine that men prefer to sit far from doors, with their backs to the wall, so they can see attacks coming and fend them off. He never really bought that, personally.
In his dream, he wakes up as a bird and flies a great distance over a geometric landscape. Below him there are factories and roads. Or maybe, he thinks, feeling suddenly optimistic, the factories are trees planted by a kind authority according to a grand scheme.