Three prompts reunited under the banner of what ever the hell I want to splurge on these wipe clean pages. It matters not if I sneeze, the ink won’t blur.
Today he met a man with another man and they had to come to some sort of agreement or some sort of compromise. His job was important, because it set the benchmark and a solid base at which to start a discussion or an argument; he doubted that as both the men he met at the side of the road, in the entrance to a disused council depot, seemed reasonable.
He was 15 minutes early, but was the last one there, was this some sort of an unspoken leadership contest, an exercise in masculinity within the business world? Without him, this whole exercise was doomed to failure.
He had the dirtiest car, a company car, the dirtiest jacket, a company supplied jacket but the finest wellingtons 50cm of leather lined French Rubber; his own, bought with his own money. Let’s cut to the chase, these things matter, you can tell pretty much everything there is to be known about a man by his footwear, his footwear looked impeccable and comfortable if little muddy.
The two men both had folders with loads of paper in, sheets and sheets, plans and maps and legal documents. He slung a touch screen tablet round his neck and held the implement of creation in his hands.
In the field were 2 men, him and around 8 sheep, separated from the men by some white plastic temporary fencing and electric tape. The sheep weren’t dangerous, they only ate grass and farted. While the group chatted in the field, the wind gusted and the paper plans, maps and documents creased and folded this way and that. 2 of the men desperately contorting their arms, hands and upper bodies to keep hold of the paper to prevent it from blowing away, leading to an embarrassing chase around the field as the papers turned circular somersaults over the bending and buffeting grass. The third man, he, strode purposefully along the hedges, checking his tablet, adjusting the implement’s position. The two men walked this way and that, pointing, adjusting, thinking, occasionally gesturing to the other. They all stoped for a while and had a discussion, pointing over the hedge to the house where the old man lived, then the two men walked towards the gate, leaving him tap tap tapping at the screen of the tablet.
In the old man’s garden there was more pointing, he had left the implement leaning against an old ash tree, and was walking into the compost area which was down a slope; in-between the top of the slope and the fence was a dip filled with cut foliage and thin branches, strata of compacted grass making walking ungainly as he slipped, his boots sinking into the heap. A mother hedgehog grimaced deep in the pile.
There were 2 posts along the same alignment of the ancient hedge, one of them had traces of barbed wire and stock wire fencing. Both posts were surrounded by dead vegetation.
He looked into the field at the sheep whilst leaning on the implement sunk deep into the ground and turned back to the 2 men who had been joined by the old man. He was gesticulating wildly and loudly, not angrily, he may have been deaf. They all 4 stood on and around the compost heap in various poses, like a poorly conceived boy band. Then they walked to the back door of the Swiss style house, removed their wellington boots and disappeared inside for what seemed like ages, but was really only a matter of 10 minutes. When the reappeared, one of the men looked white as a sheet, whatever had happened inside the house had shaken him up, he couldn’t look at the other men and was slow in his actions as if he had forgotten how to wear his boots, tucking his trousers in as an afterthought, creasing and pleating the trouser bottoms; he took the boots off and started again, the rest of the men walking towards the 5 bar gate, the old man opening it and shaking each man’s hand in turn.
The walk down the drive back to the main road was slow, deliberate, with him and one of the men striding up front, and then hanging back deliberately to let the other man catch up, he was white as a sheet. What riddle had he been told, what truth or lie had he heard that did not affect the other men in the same way. The old man stood at the gate and watched the men leave, getting smaller and smaller until they turned the corner.
The implement of creation was still embedded standing erect in the compost. What a bystander may have seen as the crux of the situation. It’s lights flashing intermittently, soon to fade as the day would draw to a close.
At the entrance to the deserted council depot, the two men who had walked ahead said what looked like a formal farewell, a firm handshake; he opened the back door, took off his work coat and threw it into the back seat, took out a cigarette, lit it and lowered himself into the front. Closing the door, engaging the ignition, the muffled sound of rock music suddenly clear as the window opened and smoke billowed out. The car eased into the road, the horn beeped and an arm with a cigarette in the hand reached out, waved goodbye.
I don’t know what the outcome of such an event could have been, how could I? I was in the pen in the corner, surrounded by grass, enclosed by plastic temporary fencing and electrified tape.