Our Father, Which Art In Heaven

By Jonathan Taylor Davies

 – 08:49, Tuesday 22nd December, 2015

A man with teeth gets his morning coffee and I, who am me, watch.

 

 – 09:04, Tuesday 2nd August, 2016     

“Hello, police? There’s been a – ” I vomit into my coffee. I am not holding a phone.

“Hello, 999? Patch me through to the chief of police” I jam my fingers into my breast pocket, feverishly searching for a mobile which isn’t there. “Please tell him it’s urgent”.

I take a sip of coffee. It tastes like sick. After a brief pause, I take another.

“Operator? I am an important man – ” I’m not “ – and I’ve left the oven on,” I haven’t. “Get me the fire brigade, stat!” My phone remains elusive because it isn’t there.

“Excuse me? Sir? Could I please ask you to get off?” I say to the man sprawled across my chest. “I might add,” I do, “that you are rather heavy”. The man, dead, says nothing, before slumping to the ground. Belatedly I realise we haven’t even exchanged insurance details which doesn’t matter because we are sat in a coffee shop and I don’t have a driver’s license.

There’s a corpse on my foot.

 

 – 08:50, Tuesday 22nd December, 2015

He (of the teeth) is a bleached arsehole on legs.  A bottle-blonde shock of foppish hair sits atop a pair of bug-eyed frames. The shades mask a pair of eyes which presumably mask a pair of eyeholes. His eyes are fixed in a smug grin – I know this to be true because the painted smile beneath his roman nose is curled in the same provocative sneer. His whole body is poised to aggravate, rippling with taut muscle wrapped in italian silk, all crowned in a wreath of perfect porcelain teeth.

“Look at him,” says an old man in old man’s clothes to a woman of similar advancement and distinctly more feminine attire. “He’s got some high socks on like he owns the world.” To the man’s surprise I nod in agreement from the adjacent table. I think he just might. I think he owns the world. In unison we cock our heads to one side as we watch him walk. It’s not a Nottingham walk. Nothing about the lilting swagger that carries him to the counter smells of a regional gait. Instinctively I know he’s neither a tourist or student; not a civil servant, nor businessman. Everything about him makes these things seem utterly impossible. “He’s probably from London” the old woman replies with assumed wisdom. The old man nods his acquiescence as if it were obvious. I’m not convinced. I don’t know if he’s from anywhere.

 

 – 09:04, Tuesday 2nd August, 2016  

A child is crying. The child is outside and I assume crying about something less important than the man, dead, parked rudely on my shoe. Children cry about all sorts. It’s probably hungry. Or stupid. It’s almost certainly stupid. It probably doesn’t even understand death. Probably doesn’t even understand Hegel. Children don’t understand much. Especially stupid, malnourished, bawling children.

(I am crying silent tears because I don’t understand death either and it’s on my foot).

Blue light dances across my chest and I realise that it wasn’t a child after all but sirens heralding a belated cavalry charge that will do nothing to prevent what has already happened, its happening being a prerequisite of its having happened. I ponder the futility of a justice system unequipped to prevent dead men from lying on shoes in coffee shops. I ponder the coffee stain on my freshly ironed shirt. I ponder all of this somewhat at once and find that parallel processing is beyond my embattled neurons. Given the circumstances I don’t hold this against me. A man lies before me, of aforementioned deadness, and his name is Caesar.

Overwhelmed, I start to whisper the Lord’s Prayer.

 

 – 08:50, Tuesday 22nd December, 2015

Every morning I walk along a ragged terraced path which overlooks the Park Estate and I navigate this watershed like a tightrope. To my right the red tiled roofs and turrets of the wealthy poke through a carpet of green, crowning a valley of riches segregated from sight by a row of black iron bars. To my left, a dilapidated red brick wall of far greater beauty, behind which lies a police station of far lesser beauty than either, standing guard over a roundabout, a crossroads at which two halves of the city brush fingers.

Watching the be-teethed man I am overcome with a similar sensation. He is the mansions and gas-lamps of the Park Estate, and I am Nottingham.

 

  –  09:06, Tuesday 2nd August, 2016     

“Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.” I’ve never been particularly religious. It would be a stretch to describe myself as an atheist but a greater stretch to say I’m a believer. Of faith. This has been a pretty terrible morning and I don’t have much faith in anything.

 

 – 08:51, Tuesday 22nd December, 2015

“Skinny caramel macchiato for Caesar.” Silence in the coffee shop. The world shifts imperceptibly. I am drinking tea.

 

 – 09:06, Tuesday 2nd August, 2016     

“Thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” Agnostic would be a fair characterisation. In religion, as in life, I tend to sit myself on the fence. I’ve always imagined this to be where the truth lies. In religion, as in life, this never proves to be the case, but the comforts of absolutism have always eluded me.

I had a bit of faith in Caesar. Look where that got him.

 

 – 09:10, Tuesday 29th December, 2015

I sit, nursing my English Breakfast Tea with the sectarian fervour of a Brit who finds the idea of coffee disgustingly continental, and its taste a tragic Americanism. I watch Caesar of the Teeth (a man indisputably drinking coffee) with growing reverence. Under normal circumstances I wouldn’t feel this way. “A man with teeth that white,” my gut would gurgle, “who is also wearing sunglasses,” it would add, “and is additionally a bottle blond,” the crucial addendum, “is not to be trusted.” I am often inclined to agree with my gut and in reward for its regular and reliable service I provide it with bed and board, breakfast included. Something, however, has changed.  Five words and a spell is cast. Normal circumstances become a thing of the past, a distant mythology:

“Skinny caramel macchiato for Caesar.”

Magic. His eyes smile at me from behind stylish shades. I wonder if anyone else notices.

 

 – 09:06, Tuesday 2nd August, 2016     

“Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”        

 

 – 09:11, Tuesday 7th June, 2016

Tuesdays have followed the same routine for some months now. Caesar gets his coffee and I watch. I am far from the only one who watches – he has amassed something of a following, which is the wrong word to use. ‘Following’ implies minor celebrity, a tween vlogger, a dancer-on-ice, something transient, something impermanent; and quite removed from the divine. There’s a solidness of being, quite out of countenance with his appearance, to Caesar. This utterly belies my belief that he must be some sort of sprite, or fairy, a fey wizard. I firmly believe that he is not of this world. Nor does he belong anywhere else.

He’s Sophocles discovering the Rock Opera.

Every other morning of the week has become a lie, surpassed and subsumed by the theatre of Caesar. A coffee shop is an odd place for an amphitheatre, and an amphitheatre is an odd place to keep a church, but it is here that we attend communion. Caesar brandishes his skinny caramel macchiato like a totem, a grail, imbued with divinity. Of course, his cup bears an inscription. A word of power.

 

 – 09:06, Tuesday 2nd August, 2016     

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

 

 – 08:43, Tuesday 3rd May, 2016

In April, I started drinking coffee.

Caesar glides through the aisles on air. He is able to do this because the air becomes lighter when he walks by. As he passes by the pews to the altar, blessing us with his smile, the sins and debts of the last week seem to evaporate. Sometimes I wonder if he shoulders the burden himself, and if so, must he be very strong?

 

 – 09:06, Tuesday 2nd August, 2016     

“For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever.” At last I retrieve my phone. It has no battery. The police are already here.

 

 – 09:16, Tuesday 12th April, 2016

A waitress, distracted by the full power of his toothy beam, trips over a chair and spills water over the old couple who complained about his socks before Christmas and have since become two of his most dedicated disciples. They seem to notice neither their wetness nor their discipleship. The waitress is new because I haven’t seen her before – it’s probably her first day, or at the very least her first Tuesday. Ground Zero. Neither his smile nor his silence falter as he helps her up. He is a missionary.

I order my normal English Breakfast Tea. The waitress, flustered, brings me a coffee. It isn’t bad.

 

 – 09:06, Tuesday 2nd August, 2016     

A police officer takes me by the shoulder. I look into her face and where I’d expected officious accusation I see only concern and reassurance. She asks me if I am ok.

I look her in the eye and say “Amen.”

 

2 thoughts on “Our Father, Which Art In Heaven

  1. After the third read-through:

    Interesting; definitely intriguing. I do want to read more and look forward to Chapter 2.

    I can’t quite decide whether it’s deep beyond my comprehension or ‘full of bollocks’.
    Maybe, like Nietzsche’s Also Sprach Zarathustra, it’s somewhere in between? Most things are!

    “One must have chaos within oneself, to give birth to a dancing star.”
    F.N. 1885

    Like

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