Fred Hayes

Geoff What

Since leaving the business part of his life behind, Geoff had sunk into a detached, depressed state. He no longer felt worthwhile. In fact if he was honest about things, he felt useless, superfluous. Everything had become somewhat pointless. Whilst feeling sure he still had ability he was unsure as to precisely what that meant. He had skills, strengths, but what they were he could not quite remember, explain, rationalise or grasp. He was lost, disconsolate, without any apparent reason for being so. The world had moved on, he had not.

The kids were grown now, independent, living their own lives. He had been, he thought, a reasonable dad. In many ways he had become quite wise, certainly more tolerant, philosophical, fatalistic about life, than when a younger man. Yet there seemed to be a bubbling rebellious­ness at the pit of his stomach that was unsettling, causing sleepless nights and constant indigestion… he was unfulfilled, uncertain, agitated, upset but unsure as to why.

“Could one be tolerant, philosoph­ical, fatalistic, whilst being rebellious?” he asked himself. There was surely a

contradiction there, somewhere. Of course life itself is a contradiction. There is, so everybody would have you believe, only one outcome, yet he knew with certainty he would never die. That was why things were so difficult, there was to be no release. For he was different, special, particular, indes­tructible, he could walk on water!

He smiled as he moved toward the washing-up bowl, then, in his imagination, submerged his hands into the boiling water. He was amused by his indestructibility. Others were pathetic if compared with himself. When he thought of how he had managed to disguise his majesty over so many lifetimes, how he had lived through plague, pestilence and deprivation, it was amazing how silly, unsuspecting and credulous, people were. Not one had ever suspected that he in reality was all powerful, superhuman, godlike.

Removing the teaspoon from the soapy water, he polished it, dried it, then as he nonchalantly walked past the waste bin, threw it in. He walked into the living room, where, picking up his pen he added teaspoons to his shopping list before walking back to the sink to finish the washing up.

Today things were different, no longer predictable. Once when you threw the water away you discovered the last teaspoon lurking in the bottom of the bowl. You could rely on it. No matter how much one searched before emptying the water it wasn’t until you did so that you came across that spoon; but today, no spoon. Yet he knew there had been one in there when he started. It was a mystery.

That was another thing, life was a mystery. What was the purpose of so much purposelessness? All that hurrying and scurrying, climbing on other’s shoulders, getting to the top of the greasy pole and then popping your clogs. Life was an exercise in pointlessness and because he was going to live forever his life was more pointless than most.

What others failed to realise was how tired it made one feel being responsible for them. Geoff had once imagined that if everybody could read and write they would be able to look after one another, understand that understanding was the answer. But no, seemingly, education meant you understood less, it just gave you enhanced tunnel vision. Everybody

He smiled as he moved toward the washing-up bowl, then, in his imagination, submerged his hands into
the boiling water.

now knew the price of everything but the value of nothing. The world was full of those who specialised in futility.

He opened the tea caddy, put two heaped spoonfuls in the teapot, filled with boiling water, stirred with a fork (for he could not find a spoon) and then replaced the teapot lid.

Picking up the tea towel he moved toward the draining board, dried, and put the plates, the cups, the saucers, knives and forks in their respective places. Then, having first put in the milk, he poured the tan-coloured liquid into his mug. It said on the side of the mug Super Dad. He smiled, took the bowl out of the sink and poured his tea away.

He was very thirsty, spitting feathers, dry as a duster; he felt like the man in the pub with no beer. Why did one apparently need to drink more and more as one got older? Perhaps it