doing the goldfish

I have always made an effort to come early on Mondays. My reason is something along the lines of “morale” but really I like the idea of starts, the delineation of time. So my clothing is straighter and my teeth are whiter and my smile wider.

He learned that I was there on Mondays; he began to appear in head to toe fresh clothing, extra groomed, extra . . . perfumed. He never said anything, only nodded at me and then opened his mouth and closed it again like a stupefied goldfish before proceeding with all haste to the door.

I ceased my Monday routine.

He learned when I came in the afternoons. I began to smell the familiar scent a few yards before he appeared and casually sneeze. I continued sneezing (casually, still) while he did something I mentally called “PM goldfish”. I came earlier or later and didn’t see him.

Last week I came in and when I sneezed from the other end of the building I realized that it had been a very, very long time since I’d seen him and so I sauntered over and helloed. He had not expected me and was dressed in some old free t-shirt and – well, it was all regrettable, rumpled. He smiled in what the staff termed uncharacteristic happiness, but it gave him the immediate aspect of an alligator and I was secretly terrified. There were so many teeth. They were very long, very white, very large. Someday I will have a nightmare about those teeth but until then their memory is undoubtedly roaming about my subconscious, causing mayhem.