the pink

cheeks offset his white hair, tight as a terrier’s. The type of terrier that is shot into holes under hedges to flush out foxes. He was a sudden presence in our carriage and had us all wondering how he had come on board because he appeared roughly half-way (and ruffly hough-way) between stops. What had happened before? And after? It was a new train, each carriage all air and glass-space with empty corners that never seemed to end. And here he is, standing in front of you, his body close to your leg, striking his hands through the air like a juggler with batons from the circus. Rapid movements up and down and across creating a breeze that bothers the brown down above your top lip. He will not move on until he has had contact, eyeball-to-eyeball, and now he has he smiles and nods and wobbles. As though he has been told he has got to do this or else. Else? Or he will be struck down by lightening. What lightening under ground? (OK. So he will be struck down by a heart attack.) Stepping backwards, sharp blue eyes, terrified like the fox that has gone to ground and has heard the terriers yapping from the back of the big man’s quad bike. Backing up, foot behind foot, lifting his knees carefully, heels rounding away behind him, his hands pulling flames through the air, muttering muttering to save our souls your soul