Saturday, May 22, 2010
a short walk
So in the late afternoon, in spring sunshine, they stood together outside the market, Annie hefting a tote bag overflowing with fresh produce from her stall, carrots and celery, as well as cakes and biscuits and coffee beans, the blended aroma lending her the air of a suburban Ceres, while Danny was burdened with his encased laptop, a shoulder bag of books and papers, and a jacket he'd brought against a change of weather. Like many indoor types he expected the worst of the environment, only to be pleasantly surprised and slightly shamed.
'Where will we go?' Annie asked.
'What do you usually do after work?'
'I catch a bus home, or sometimes a taxi. Or I get a lift.'
'I don't have a car, at least not here. I only live a couple of blocks away.'
'Ah, that explains why I see you here so often. Shall we - go to your house?
'Ummm. Sure. I... I live alone. It's just down here.'
She strode off, and for a moment Danny was rooted to the spot. She turned and queried, 'Okay?'
'Sorry, yes, fine,' he beamed, catching her up.
'I suppose this seems a bit strange to you? You think I'm being a bit forward?'
'Well... you're being a bit more forward than most girls. Which is a good thing. I'm generally a bit backward myself.'
She laughed, her head tilted back, her teeth neat and perfect, her auburn hair cropped short to reveal her slender neck. His proximity to all this made his head swim.
'And why are you so backward?'
'I'm shy with women. I love them too much. Well, not all of them.'
'Well...' she said, and hesitated. 'Let's talk about something else. The Catholic Church?'
'I've not had anything to do with it personally, but it aggravates me every time I hear the Vatican - pontificating. I reject everything it stands for. No offence to you, I hope all your experiences were good.'
'I wasn't abused, but I'm probably no more of a supporter of the Catholic Church than you. There were good teachers and bad teachers. I don't know even if they were all Catholic. So what does the Catholic Church stand for, in your view?'
'Well, something known as revealed truth, which equates with Church dogma. Usually spelt with a capital T in papal pronouncements, also known as papal bull.'
'But we're not Catholics, so can't we ignore all that stuff? I mean, it interests me, but it doesn't affect my life.'
'No, well we're living in a relatively secular age. A few hundred years ago - if you look at the documents from, say, the sixteenth century, you'll find them saturated with references to God, or the god called God, as I call him. And if we were talking to each other back then, well - our way of thinking would be so different.'
'We wouldn't be walking down this street. There wouldn't be a street. Or a country called Australia.'
'It's good to look at history. Things that seem permanent and solid now, you come to realize how fleeting they are. Not just these buildings, but political systems, religious beliefs. They form and they fade, and when they're at their height, people fight for them and kill and die for them.'
'Wow. Heavy shit.'
'I live on this street. See that great monstrous mansion thing there?'
'You live in that house?'
'No, I rent a little flat behind it, in the grounds. The old servant's quarters.'
'I'm jealous. I just live in a fairly dull old flat in Ovingham, with my boyfriend. Or my ex-boyfriend, who doesn't live with me.'