Hummingbird

It just sort of leaked out of me, I didn't really know where I was going with it until I got to the end, if you know what I mean.

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1. Hummingbird

I watch the dripping from the ceiling.  I watch it collect in a neat puddle on the floor.  It soaks into the carpet and makes a squelching sound when I pace over it.  The drops are not as big as they were.  I look at the ceiling.  I look at the floor.  I look at the door. 

I open the door.  At the bottom of the stairs I can hear the wind blowing against the door of the close.  Branches and twigs rake the window panes.

“Wild out, isn’t it?” asks the lady across the landing.  She has hair that has been frozen mid-explosion.

“It is,” I say.  I lick my lips.  She looks at me strangely for licking my lips and I just want to tell her that I just needed to lick my lips and that I wasn’t licking them because I found her desirable or wanted to do sex on her or anything.  She pulls her pink dressing gown tight and goes into her flat.  I can hear her pressing against the peephole.  She is watching me.  I know this so I scratch myself and spit on the stairs.  I hear the door lock.  I hear padded feet going away down the corridor.  Then all I hear is the wind and the branches and the twigs and it feels like I am alone in the eye of a terrible storm.  I stand there.  The close door bursts open.  The wind has arrived.  It barges up to where I stand and ruffles my hair.  Good to see you, it says.  You’re bigger than when I last saw you.  I want to stay and talk to the wind but there are drops coming from my ceiling and I need to know what is causing them.  The wind keeps me company for a few stairs and then gets bored and wanders back down to the bottom of our block of flats where it skulks and kicks some leafs about.  I knock the door.

“Yes?”

She is beautiful.  All of her seems edible.  I try to ask her about the drips but all I can say is “drip” and she begins to look at me funny and I try even harder to say what I need to say but I stammer more and it just sounds like I am pretending to be a tap.  I throw my head back and laugh.  I hope that will show her that I want to forget everything I have just said and try again.  She is getting more and more of her body behind the door.  She must be worried that I mean her harm.  I just want to hold her and stroke her hair and whisper nice things in her ear and be the man that she comes home to after a long day and I’ll take her coat and scarf and hang them neatly in the closet and bring her a cup of tea and sit her down and ask how her day was and hang on her every word and I won’t even need to pretend I care because I will and I do.

“Drips in my flat,” I manage to say.  She stops hiding so much behind the door.

“Oh, sorry!”

She looks a little more at ease now.

“I’ve a burst pipe in the toilet.”

“Can I see?”

“No.”

“Why can’t I see it?”

She says I can’t see because she doesn’t know me and though she’s sure I’m not for all she knows I could be an axe murderer.  I tell her I don’t have an axe and she laughs.  I don’t laugh because it’s true. 

“I’ve called a plumber,” she says, “so it’ll be fixed soon.  I’ve a pot you can borrow if you need something to catch the drops with.”

“That would be great.”

It would be.  I only have one pan.  It cooks my bacon and my porridge.  It’s a nice pan though the bottom is scratched and sometimes there are bits of Teflon in my food because I use a metal fork to stir and turn and taste instead of a wooden spoon because I hate washing up and at least then I have one less thing to clean.

 She leaves the door slightly ajar and goes to get me the pan.  I step a little closer and push the door open to see what the house of a beautiful woman looks like.  I hoped it was a grand palace, with marble pillars and exotic birds and courtesans.  Instead there is shag carpeting and a piece of wallpaper a little down the hall that is coming away from the wall.  I spit in my hand and go inside and rub the spit on the wallpaper to get it to stay put.  It takes a few handfuls of spit but I manage it.  The beautiful woman shouts at me and I don’t understand because I was just trying to do something good for her and my grandmother told me that a good deed a day would mean you would go to heaven.  I’d like to go to heaven.  I don’t know what my heaven would look like but I bet it’d be nice.

She hits me on the head with the pot and pushes me outside and throws the pot out after.  I am alone again in the eye of the storm.  I pick up the pot and go downstairs and sit by the squelchy carpet and watch the drops go from the ceiling to the floor.  I go to put the pot down but I pull back from the edge and decide that it would be bad manners to use the pot of a beautiful woman to catch drops in.  I sit with my hands cupped instead and catch the water.  After a while it runs over the edges of my forefingers and trickles down my knuckles onto the squelchy floor.  It got where it was going after all.  It just took a detour.

I put on the radio and listen to the classical music station.  I like it when I put the classical music station on and I look out into the garden and pretend whoever is in the garden is in a film with the classical music as a soundtrack.  But the garden is almost always empty and so all I have is a soundtrack and no movie.  While I wait by the window and watch birds wrestling with the wind I hear a bad noise upstairs and I leap up and listen carefully.  It sounds like the beautiful woman is in trouble.  The drips have stopped.

My favourite stories when I was younger were ones about King Arthur and his knights who fought evil and I’ve always wanted to try and be like them even though I know I’m not as strong or as brave as Arthur and his knights.  The drips have stopped.  I put the pot on my head for a helmet and grab a fork that I haven’t cleaned yet and march upstairs and I realise the door is open and my heart gets quicker and I can hear her noises much more plainly now and it doesn’t sound good so I just burst right in, past the wallpaper that has started to peel again because my spit has dried, over the shag carpeting and into the bedroom where there is a picture of a hummingbird above a mirror and the beautiful woman lying on her back with her legs apart and a fat man in a boiler suit thrusting into her.  She makes more terrible noises and I yell “excelsior!” and charge in and stab him with my fork to make her stop making those noises.  The fat man screams in pain and I say it serves him right and stab him again and now her terrible noises have stopped but they have been replaced with worse ones.  He is flailing and cursing and kicking and screaming and I’m dodging and whirling and laughing and stabbing.  I jump back to avoid one of his fists and jump forward again and I take my fork down on his neck and it sinks right in and he paws at his neck and blood spurts out and he collapses to the floor and the beautiful woman is hysterical and he looks at me for one terrible moment and then the light in his eyes go out and I feel bad.

“You fucking freak,” screams the beautiful woman who is not beautiful now but teary and wild, “don’t come anywhere near me.”

I don’t go anywhere near her.  I pull my fork out of the fat man’s neck and he makes a horrible gurgling noise and I think he’s still alive so I stab him again but he isn’t and I’ve just made more of a mess.  The teary and wild woman is talking to someone on the phone and her voice is wavering and I tip my helmet to her and walk out the bedroom, wipe the fork on the shag carpeting so it won’t be so hard to clean later on and go back downstairs and sit by the window that looks onto the garden and wait for the film to start.

 

 

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