• Vol. 04
  • Chapter 10


‘It’s late. Thanks for seeing me. I have a notion. This experiment might throw light on the subject – for all of us. Remind me. Edward?’
The face that peered back was expressionless.
‘Correct, Dr Alexander.’
The voice clipped.
‘Wonderful. Let’s see. Here it is. Would you study this image, then share your thoughts, Edward? I’ll hold it up for you.’
‘Seconds spent staring are seconds I will never retrieve in a life which is already over-populated, drained of freedom and curtailed by circumstance. It is, ostensibly, a metaphor for society.’
‘How so?’
Edward sighed. ‘Put simply, it is a pictorial representation of aspirational stages. From the lowly to the highest, there are platforms to be mounted, rungs upon ladders, steps…Yet more steps. Of course, the symmetry underlines the irony of the situation –’
‘I disagree.’
The voice was steady, educated.
‘Who is that?’
‘My dear doctor, it is I, the Reverend. Edward, as you know, turns to philosophy, or politics, for all explanation. What is obvious to me is an elongated church window through which we can quite clearly see an invitation to The Light. Stare long enough and there is a definite cross shape. Marvellous.’
‘Thank you, Reverend. I see Edward has left us.’
‘And so must I take leave, Doctor. It was but a flying visit. I have sermons to write.’
A deep voice interjected.
‘They know nothing.’



Big eyes.
‘I will tell you how it is, Dokta. A dark face. See? The face of a warrior, battle-scarred. See the painted nose? The white teeth? You think he’s sleeping, Dokta? No. The warrior never sleeps. He is evaluating.’
‘A face, Mayembe? Yes.’
‘It is also his protective shield. To frighten his enemy.’
‘Interesting. Anyone else there? Eric? Are you around?’
‘I’m a lickle bit shy, Doctor Laxelandra.’
‘I know, Eric, but I’d love to know what you see.’
‘Is it a… a… blackboard like they had in olden times, when they used chalk?’
‘Could be, Eric.’
‘Or…or…I know! It’s a road with parking spaces an’ dead ends an’ biclickle lanes. Can I play with it? I’ve got a yellow taxi and I can put my Playmobil people on the zebra crossing.’
‘Maybe later, Eric. I just want to –’
‘I’m ’ere, Doc. Can’t get a flippin’ word in edgeways when that lot are around. I’ve ’ad me thinkin’ cap on and I’ll tell ya what I think: It’s a man with a missing brain! Like me! Thick! Or...a man with a hole in his head for a pegged hat. There is method in my madness – Madness! – because the hat can’t blow off! Got to run. People to entertain, an’ all that malarkey.’
The room became silent.
It had been a frantic session, as always. Bobby looked at Dr Alexander in the mirror and took off the glasses. He huffed on the lenses, imprinted with his own thumbprints. On and off…
He buffed them and studied his own reflection.
Bobby Cavendish was back.
For now.