Our Father, Which Art In Heaven


By Jonathan 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 hurl chunks into my coffee. I am not holding a phone.

“Woah! 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 “- and tell him it’s urgent!”

I take a sip of coffee. It tastes like vomit. 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 I don’t have a driver’s license and we are sat (stationary) in a coffee shop.

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 the clothes of an even older man. “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 suggests a regional gait. Instinctively I know he’s neither a tourist or student; not a civil servant, nor a 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 quite trivially. It’s probably hungry. It’s probably stupid. It’s almost certainly stupid. It probably doesn’t know calculus. It probably doesn’t even understand death. 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. Sirens do nothing, loudly, to stop the immediate past from having happened already. I ponder the futility of a justice system ill-equipped to prevent dead men from lying on shoes in coffee shops. I ponder the coffee stain on my freshly ironed shirt. I ponder the boundless tyranny of time itself. I ponder all of this somewhat at once, a feat somewhat beyond by 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 opulent Park Estate, and I navigate this watershed like a tightrope. To my right the red tiled roofs and turrets of the Park poke through a carpet of green fingers and fronds, crowning a valley of riches segregated from sight by a row of black iron bars. To my left squats a dilapidated brick wall of more authentic beauty, hiding an ugly pre-fab police station standing guard over a roundabout, the 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.”

 

 – 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.”

 

 – 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, glittering 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 not the only one watching – 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, or anywhere else.

He’s Sophocles discovering the Rock Opera.

Every other morning of the week is a tepid 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 build 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 week gone seem to evaporate. Sometimes I wonder if he shoulders the burden himself. 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.”

 

 – 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 enamoured 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. At last I retrieve my phone. It has no battery. She asks me if I am ok.

I look her in the eye and say “Amen.”

 

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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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