In the seconds before the hand grasps the stick it is still the most prized antique in his collection. In repose against the wall near the northeast corner of the room, the walking stick looks as if it stands there in waiting, as it once did for King Edward VII, who would take it up and amble his way down for his evening brandy and smoke.
When the hand wraps around it though, red fingernails alight against the gleaming black shaft, all essence of the thing somehow drifts off it and diminishes into the air with the energy of the whoosh as the stick arcs high and back, then forward through the window and over the balcony. As if moving in slow motion for a prized camera shot, the stick flies end over end toward the earth.
In the alley below, the stick hits the ground and tosses and hits the ground again, finally falling over and rolling to a less than regal journey’s end in front of a man lying under an old sleeping bag. The man lay looking at the thing, registering the event that had awakened him with the first clattering fall. In silence the man reaches out and draws the walking stick under his filthy bedding and feigns sleep.
Not long after there is a pair of impeccably polished shoes wandering the area near him, shifting boxes and garbage; no doubt attached to a person looking for the prize held by the man under the heap of green blanket. The feet come close to the heap, and pause before turning away and taking an angry kick at a garbage can; from which a startled rat scurries out into the street.
A driver, shocked by the unlikely sight of the rat, jams her car’s brakes and amidst the squealing and nearby shouting of pedestrians diving for cover, she raises her arms in front of her face just as her car drives through a flower shop window. An alarm pierces the neighbourhood with its repetitive wail, as people run about reacting to the crash.
In the small apartment a flight above the store and new chaos, a man is awakened from the first sleep he has managed after nights and nights of insomnia. Distressed, he picks up the phone, dials, and screams “NO” to the unsuspecting recipient on the other end
The receiver of the call, a pharmacist in the store at the other end of the block, suddenly vomits from the shock of the assault in her ear which somehow provoked a forceful wave of what she is yet to know is morning sickness.
A group of teenagers who had been lurking about in the store waiting for the opportunity to steal an afternoon’s supply of chocolate tumble out of the store and into the street laughing and having a royal good time over the unexpected entertainment provided by the lady retching all over a shelf of grape flavoured cough syrup. One kid is laughing so hard he stumbles off the curb and trips into the path of the number 67 bus.
In the ensuing scramble and shouting and cell phone calling of 911, a dog and its leash become separated from its owner and bolts into the alleyway at the north east end of the street. The dog bounds over the heap of old green sleeping bag and the person beneath it rises with the conviction that he will not find rest in this spot today.
He picks up his things, most of which are stuffed into a torn plastic shopping bag, and which now include a banged up walking stick with a dented silver sleeve. He ambles with the walking stick, as perhaps did a king, over to the park.
As he approaches some mates, one of them chuckles: “who do you think you are, the king of Spain?” “Nah,” he croaks, “I’m the king of Cabbagetown.”
This is a response to Willow's latest Magpie Tales visual creative writing prompt. Visit Magpie Tales to find other fine poets and writers responding to the same prompt. Give it a try – creative play is good for you!