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A Time and a Place
A Time and a Place
Published by Nemonymous
3 Weeks Ago
A Time and a Place

He placed an empty plate in front of me.

"There's a time and a plate," he said, as if this were the best joke in the world.

I laughed politely. Polite laughter is never the same as real laughter. But it was real enough to elicit a small breaking of wind.

He left for the kitchen. I looked at the skin of the hand that sat in my lap awaiting the meal to arrive, next to the other hand. The knife and fork either side of the plate would soon be taken up by each hand, I assumed. That skin was mine. Those hands things I could move. But such thoughts gave no real clue as to whom those hands belonged, other than a sense they were mine and thus part of me. The thoughts themselves were mine, too. How could thoughts be otherwise. Thoughts were more certain of who owned them than the hands were, because hands could not think.

By this time, he had returned from the kitchen pushing a trolley and several platters upon it.

"Roast beef on pancakes," he said.

I looked at the food he had brought and confirmed to myself that his description was not a million miles from the truth.

But did eyes have thoughts, if hands didn't?

I lowered my face to smell the food. My nose was usually more certain about things than any other part of my body. But the aroma was too tenuous. Beef and pancakes had no recognisable strength of identity. Other than perhaps identity by taste? And by texture, and texture in the mouth was more aligned with the sense of touch than with the sense of taste, I thought.

The food had not yet been loaded upon the plate. The restaurant, I knew, had a sign outside it saying: 'The Time and the Plate.' A good name. Why had nobody ever called a restaurant by that name before? It was too good not to have been used before. But this was not the time and the place to explore such avenues of brand management.

And, after it had been served, I tucked into the roast beef and pancakes. A sort of Yorkshire Pudding without walls only a floor. And meat with fibrous blood rather than gravy soaking into it. And fingers. The knife and fork eschewed.
7 Thanks From:
Ascrobius (2 Weeks Ago), Cnev (3 Weeks Ago), Dr. Locrian (3 Weeks Ago), Druidic (3 Weeks Ago), miguel1984 (3 Weeks Ago), Mr. Veech (3 Weeks Ago), Zaharoff (3 Weeks Ago)
  #1  
By Nemonymous on 3 Weeks Ago
Re: A Time and a Place

A TIME AND A PLACE (2)


There was nothing Diane could do other than ring the bell. She stared steelily at the door number. Was this the correct address? The semi-detached house had a name, but what a name! ‘Roast Beef and Pancakes’ on a plaque decorated with flowers. The flowers and the name and the name’s screwed-on letters did not seem to be in decorative line with each other, but that was not the real point. It was the door number that seemed wrong, with empty screw holes left in the flaking paint of the door frame where a number had evidently fallen off. Diane looked to the ground to see if it was still there. There was a time and a place, and this was not the time. Alternatively, this was not the place. Time and place needed to be together, in line with each other, and she would then have found the fallen number still on the ground by her feet.

As she continued these peculiar thoughts, the door opened and a man peered out at her. He looked very sleepy, and indeed he was still in his pyjamas. And yawning upon massive teeth, or so they seemed to Diane. Most people slept at night, she thought, and this was nearly noon. She looked at her watch as if to question the state of this man. It was a prolonged silence, so prolonged, she wondered how two strangers such as herself and this man could remain silent for so long, without one leaving or the other shutting the door. Peculiar seemed a better word than stranger. They were not strangers to each other, but ‘peculiars’. She laughed at this behind her hand.

Who was the one to be most feared? This man at the door, yawning, remaining inscrutable, vociferously unquestioning of the silence between them? Or Diane whom we fail to know as a person since this is the first time we have encountered her? At least we know her name. His name remains a mystery. We'll call him Archie. For no reason. But we do know definitely where he lives or is now where he appears to live, in a house with a missing door number and a name plaque decidedly peculiar.

Eventually, Diane offered the man an envelope. One that needed to be delivered by hand and accepted by the intended recipient’s hand, it seemed - rather than simply being put through the door. At that stage, we had not yet noticed that the door had no letterbox, a very peculiar fact that would have changed our view of the letter she held out to the man. A summons, or an important missive that needed to avoid being lost in translation, as it were. We even expected Diane to open it and read it aloud to the man, perhaps in a language he would understand, and in an accent appropriate to that language. Or with emphasis on certain words that might change the whole meaning.

It was at that point she smelt the cooking. Not a breakfast smell, as was betokened by the man’s appearance of having just got up. No frying bacon sound, or sizzling eggs sunnyside up. More a Sunday dinner smell, from those days when people listened to ‘Two Way Family Favourites’ and ‘The Billy Cotton Band Show’…

“Wakey! Wakey!” Diane suddenly shouted.

The man started. He was visibly shaken. Diane and the man must know one another, we now began to think. A previously estranged couple. That would explain the prolonged silence as each eyeballed the other’s eyeballs. The man’s bloodshot, and moist. Her eyes steely. One set of eyes to cook the other, we hummed and haahed about.

But we could not see their eyes. People like us who tell stories are intrinsically not there at all. Words are blind. Numbers, too. Only the seeing of things counts. Only being there counts. A number fallen off the date changes everything. Even a number blinking off a digital time. Only hands can tell the time. Assuming there are two hands there to tell us. To sign us, by miming, or ventriloquising. Or passing this story to you in an envelope, rather than electronic digital means.

Whether Diane and the man shared a collusive Sunday dinner together does depend on the time and the place. A coincidence of these two parameters as well as many other things thus targeted. And the question of what they ate of us. Who ate what. What ate whom. And what or who visited what or whom for Sunday dinner.

Time now for ‘Educating Archie’. At least we knew the dummy’s name. And another estranged couple listening to it on the wireless next door, barely audible through the wall.
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