The Monday lunchtime crowd is just starting to enter the pub, but I’ve been here for an hour now, so have picked out the best seat, out of the way but with a clear view of the rest of the lounge bar and front garden. I’m still recoiling from the days events, and it’s only just noon. Fortunately the beer is working wonders on my state, and I feel quite relaxed and calm. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that as soon as I talk to anyone in authority about what’s happening I’ll be whisked away to the nice countryside retreat, health insurance willing, that is. They’ll be very nice to me, I’m sure, and I bet there’ll be some lovely cocktails of drugs to pass the time. I’m not too old, so should have a lovely time, dribbling down my chin as I crayon stick figure families and bright yellow round suns. Doesn’t sound too bad.
My phone is on the table and it buzzes to indicate a message has arrived. I pick up the phone and open the message.
“I came to your office but you’re not there? Having a lazy day are we? Don’t blame you. Give me a text when you get this, I’d like to see you soon. J x”
There’s a couple sitting a few tables away from me, they look reasonably innocuous from here, but I see myself, brightly lit, get up and walk over to them. I stand aggressively over them and they look nervous. I can’t hear myself, but am pretty sure the conversation is not good. The other me reaches down and grabs the girl’s mobile phone, taps a few keys and then drops it, before running down the stairs and out the door. I wonder what it is they could have done to deserve that. Is that what this madness is, seeing the events that could be, the future if I choose to go way way out there. Could that be me? The crazy guy in the pub who harasses random people and then run away? I hope not. I hope to be in my country asylum as soon as possible. I need a refill on my pint, so get up and start to walk towards the table with the couple. They both clearly show anxiety at my presence, shrinking and looking down as I approach. I really don’t know why they are acting this way, unless the could see my delusions too, or if they were causing them. I feel a strong urge to shout at them for reading my thoughts, but think better of it and head down the stairs. Glancing back over my shoulder I see them both looking at me, and then dart their eyes away.
The barman serves my pint and I pay. The couple freaked me out a little bit, so I decide to sit in the garden. Apart from the smokers there’s no-one out here, unsurprising given the temperature. Today is one of those oddly cool autumn days that spells the real end of summer and the beginning of the cool period. The sky begins to darken earlier, and the more frequent cloud covering adds to the sombre affair that is autumn.
I take out my phone and open the messaging app, reading through our few previous conversations on here. There are so utilitarian and concise, apart from today’s message. I suppose we haven’t seen each other for a while, and we are at the very beginning of this relationship. I gasp, internally, and realise I’m going to have to tell Jules how truly mad I am and how far over the edge I’ve gone. That’s going to be a fun conversation. I put my phone away and take in my surroundings, here in this little walled garden, old station and road signs adorn the walls, and a rotting wooden shed teeters a moment away from complete collapse there in the corner, just like my mind does at this table. I drink my beer, enjoying the sweet bitter taste, cool and refreshing on this cool day. I’m not going to work, but I need to do something today. If nothing else I need to the my mind off, well, my mind. As I walk in through the back door and through the pub, I glance up the stairs to the couple from before. They are oblivious to me and face each other, lost in conversation. I head out the door and turn away from home, walking up towards the river.
Further up the road I see a car pull up, and two tall men get out. As I approach it’s clear they are going to intercept me, so I turn to run. I pause slightly before getting into a running position as I see myself running off to the left and being grabbed. I lunge right and through a gate, into a private development. I am running now and sense the feet just behind me. Again I see myself, just off the left, being grabbed and tackled. Another lunge to the right and I feel myself pulling away. I’m in full flow now and running well.
Typically, for the day I’m having, right at that moment I feel a tonne of bricks slam into my side and knock me down. The bricks fall down on to me and pin me to the floor. The bricks sprout arms that hold me down hard, rough against the floor. The bricks form into the shape of a suited man and my eyes adjust. I’m being dragged backwards, my hands tied behind my back and my body flaccid to their grip. They take me back t the car and pile me into the back seat. One of them takes up position in the back with me while the other, panting, slides int the driver’s seat and starts the engine. I know there’s no point in trying to fight them, for one they are literally the most well-built guys I’ve seen, and second, we are now on a main road travelling fast. I’ve seen the movies where people jump, or fall, out of moving cars, and even though they get up, in the movies, I don’t have to try it to know it’ll be a lot worse in real life.
I ask the usual, movie-esque, questions: where are we going? who are you? what do you want with me?, but I know they won’t answer. The thought crosses my mind that I have truly lost all of my faculties as a human, and that I am still in that pub garden, dribbling down my chin and rocking backwards and forwards, gibbering and jabbering to myself and anyone close enough to hear me. I rest my head against the seat behind me and relax. There’s nothing left to do and nothing left to say. Either I’m insane and this is all a fantastic delusion, or I’ve just been kidnapped. Either way something is going to come to a head very soon. I watch the scenery go by and we whizz out of town and into the country. What a day.