“There are eight in front of me, and one behind me!”
The voice announcing my arrival in the Post Office queue was unfamiliar. A figure in his fifties a black man - a West Indian - in dark glasses, a white stick heralding his blindness. He did not turn his head as I took my place behind him. Short grey hairs protruding over the blue collar-shirt from the nape of his neck, a crumpled brown coat, jeans, sandals over socks
“There are six in front of me, and three behind me.”
His voice was deep holding the accent of his youth, but his tone simply conversational, nevertheless heard everywhere around the cluttered shop. He did not move a muscle, no reaction as the queue moved forward. There was no indication how he knew who was coming – who was going, what was around him.
“There are four in front of me and four behind me !”
A slight hint of a smile in his voice, he continued without moving his head, “Hello Jack, there behind me – how are you?”
Unease at the uncanny rose inside me, the parcel heavy in my hand, flat and square, safely wrapped in brown paper- my stolen Vettriano, travelling incognito. Just a coincidence, a mad old blind man pulling a parlour trick, listening to who came and went, using his ears to tell him what we – the sighted -could all see anyway. I pushed a faint grin onto my face. Pointless to smile at the blind a voice told me.
“My names not Jack .” I started, hating the quiver in my voice “It's William, I’m pleased to meet you.” Taking control “You were right about the number in the queue though.” Lame and patronising, that should do it.
“There are three in front of me and seven behind me.” He observed, less calmly now.
He still hadn’t turned his head. But his white long cane was twitching in front of him.
“But if you’re William – then” He moved the white long cane to one side, then the other. Moving like a snake hunting through grass. “That makes eight behind me – with Jack….” He tailed off and for the first time seemed unsure. He paused for a long moment, the queue was silent listening for his conclusion
“Where the hell is Jack?” He asked, his head turning now sightless eyes searching behind him and around him.
Sweat gathering about me, I turned and headed quickly to wards the door, this had got a little to close. Hugging my stolen painting against my chest, feeling it cool and heavy. Ten years in prison in a parcel.
“There are two in front of me and only FIVE behind – William's gone – and Jack Vettriano's gone too.”
His voice carried into the street, as I scurried off to safety.
Mutley Dog blogs (amongst others) HERE at Alloted Span