>Imagine you’ve bought a brand new computer, and that slightly strange guy who used to work with you but you didn’t really know comes around, because you remember he once mentioned he did something with computers. So he comes around, and doesn’t knock at your door, but sort of scratches, like a cat might if it wanted to come in at night. The first thing you notice are those arms of his. You know something’s wrong with them, but you really have to concentrate to work out what. When you’re filling the kettle, you realise that maybe they’re too short for his body. So you lean your head back around the kitchen door to look at him again, sitting like a statue on your couch and ask for the second time if he has sugar but really you just want to check out those arms and yes, they definitely are too short for his body. Way too short.

So imagine you’re sitting there with this guy, who tells you to call him Fozzy, even though his name is Frank, which is a perfectly respectable name, but that’s what he wants and you guess that’s okay. Imagine you’re sitting there, and he’s looking at you with a weird quizzical look like he’s waiting for a secret track to kick in on his favourite CD and you can’t for the life of you work out how you can steer the conversation back to computers because for some reason you’re talking about some documentary you saw the night before about jellyfish, really big—giant, really—jellyfish that live at the bottom of the sea and have these strange shapes and appendages because they’ve never seen light.

Fozzy (Frank, whatever) nods ever so slightly from time to time, but the only other movement is his squinty eyes, which remind you of sultanas, how when you squeeze them a little bit of oil sometimes comes out. You realise Fozzy’s eyes are watering. Not crying, just leaking. You realise this and stop talking about giant jellyfish. You ask him if he’s okay and he mumbles that yes, he is. You want to offer him some tissues, but can’t for the life of you think where some are. You know you can’t offer guests toilet paper to dry their eyes with. You mention to Fozzy how when you go to shopping centres without your glasses sometimes your eyes get really tired and dry from the air conditioning.

Then Fozzy seems to snap out of it, does a conservative little interlaced finger thing and apologises. You tell him that’s okay, but he’s welcome to come back another day if he’s not feeling well. Fozzy says something then, very quietly. You say, pardon, didn’t quite catch that and then Fozzy looks you straight in the eyes and says I killed my mother this morning.

The feeling you’re feeling when Fozzy says this is what it feels like to have left the house on a day that looked fairly nice, and just when you’ve walked too far from the house to turn back, you realise that it’s raining and that it’s not normal rain but actually very sharp swords falling from the sky. In fact, you take a small, long sip from your cup of cooling tea and size up the possibility that Fozzy is telling you a joke. The moisture from his eyes runs down in two concurrent streams and disappears into each corner of his mouth, which may just be the most unsettling thing you’ve ever seen.

You ask him if he knows anything about computers and he says no.



  1. >Your first story is a cracker, Chris. It stands out for me of the three. That he scratches at the door like a cat, and the nervous shifting and cooling of tea… It’s quite wonderful.

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