Wednesday, January 8

The Parked Car & its Owner

If you see the curtains twitching, it is just I. Outside there is a car parked that I do not recognise because it is not a railroad-man’s car nor is it signed. It is there and the lights inside of it are off; even the drab streetlamps do not linger long upon it; it is there on the gravel outside my window, a little cave of darkness. I should approach it. No! I should not. I could get myself killed. Who is in the car? They are not a smoker. They are patient. They can see me in their rear-view if they are careful enough, and they are most certainly careful. At this time of year, anyone will take a bribe and security men will most certainly take a bribe. ‘Just pull up there, then. We’ll keep people away.’ The car is still sitting there in the shadows of its own making—oh, wait, no, those are the shadows of my building, but there are shadows, all around, all the same. Rain fell plenty today, in vast sheets. The car has slicked its hair in the gel of today’s rain. Maybe the car has come to pick up that luminous tracksuit that has been lying in the grass verge for some months now; I remember waking up one Sunday morning and seeing the luminous tracksuit as though it were a dead body, and feeling afraid, but the tracksuit is there; the parked car is right next to it. The car is still there. It has not moved. I sit here in the dim, listening for a door to open but nothing stirs. I shall go down and confront the owner. There is a small knife in the drawer that I use mainly for chopping garlic, coriander and ginger. Be prepared. I just checked my window—twitching curtain—again because I was not sure the car would still be there, but it was. Because of its colour its outline is slightly deranged and in the darkness it appears somewhat like a spook, a spectre, though I know that it is just a car that was built in a factory one day by many, many men. The owner is not yet asleep. I should make him a cup of tea, or a pot of coffee. It is cold out there. Any moment now the car will move; its owner will emerge or the engine will remember how good it is to be alive or angels will come down from heaven and take it away. The rain is drying on its bonnet and on its bumper. It has not rained for some hours now. The car is staring at me. There is mud in the treads of its tyres; I can see that from here, even in the darkness. What will happen to it when I go to sleep? Can I sleep when such a sinister car is outside my window? There is nothing for me to do now besides sleep.

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